Lewis Cook has long been thought of as one of the brightest talents in English football, and already has a lot of first team experience at the age of 19. He has just joined AFC Bournemouth from Leeds United for a fee that could reach £10 million, which could turn out to be one of the best bits of business done this summer.
The club are heading into their second season in the top flight and are looking to add quality to their squad. Cook was already one of the stand-out players in the Championship and he has the potential to become far better. It is a positive career move for him, which shows a maturity in his thinking, as many English players can be enticed by the big clubs, rather than thinking of their own development.
Bournemouth have done some high quality business early on, adding Emerson Hyndman, Nathan Ake and Lys Mousset, three talented young players. Meanwhile, they are believed to be closing in on a move for Jordon Ibe, which demonstrates that the club are looking to build a young, hungry side to develop together under the stewardship of Eddie Howe. It is a risky strategy by the south coast outfit, but if it works, then it could be hugely successful, and the potential to sell on all of these for a profit will also come into the club’s thinking.
Cook is an England U19 international and many believe that he will one day go on to represent the senior side. For £10 million, it looks like it could be a great deal for Bournemouth if he progresses as expected, for he could easily be sold for £25-30m in the next two years, given his potential and home-grown status.
Cook was signed to add depth and quality to Bournemouth’s midfield options, as he is versatile. The former Leeds starlet is capable of playing as a defensive midfielder, central midfielder or in an attacking midfield role, while he could also cover the wing positions at a push, although this wouldn’t be ideal.
He is an intelligent player, who reads the game excellently as displayed by his defensive contributions. Also possessing a high work rate and making plenty of interceptions, his intelligence on the pitch is highlighted on many occasions. The midfielder is an impressive athlete, which combined with his positional sense, allows him to retrieve the ball, and furthermore, he is technically gifted when he is in possession. His passing range both short and long belies his age, and his vision allows him to spot things that other less talented midfielders simply cannot.
Last season, Cook looked like he was a step above his team-mates, in terms of his passing especially. He often tried to play intricate passes that his team-mates were not able to read and as a result, it reflected poorly on Cook himself. Despite this, to the trained observer, it was clear to see the idea was there.
The former Leeds United trainee is also a confident dribbler, and capable of beating two or three opposition players in the attacking third. This is useful, as it creates space for players to run into, and his passing range allows him to play effective passes when he gets into those positions.
There are plenty of areas for the midfielder to improve on before he gets close to the England squad. His end product is inconsistent and he needs to improve both his decision making and the quality of his final ball. In attacking positions, he has not contributed enough for Leeds, and Bournemouth may opt to look play him deeper as a result.
Another weakness is that he can sometimes be overly aggressive and mistime challenges, which has resulted in a
high caution count over the last couple of campaigns. In a league as quick and physical as the Premier League, he cannot keep making the same errors when attempting tackles, otherwise he may be more of a hindrance to his team.
This is an exciting signing for Bournemouth as they continue to purchase talented, young players, who are capable of contributing immediately and have the potential to develop further. Under Eddie Howe, if The Cherries can stay in the top flight for the next two or three years, they could have a very dangerous side if they continue to buy players of this profile.
Cook is not of Premier League standard player yet, but testing himself in the top flight will only further his development. He has the attributes to be a complete midfielder, capable of helping his side in both halves of the pitch – now he just needs to add consistency.
It is not likely that Lewis Cook will be starting every week for the Cherries. However, he adds depth to the midfield and in the long term, he will become a crucial member of their first XI.
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