The Summer transfer window is well underway with transfer sagas developing left, right and centre. Every season, there is always one. Most memorably, Cesc Fabregas’ protracted departure to Barcelona had the nation exasperated of the market. In addition, 2014 was the year for Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez to take centre stage, however this Summer, a deal much closer to home has all the ingredients to last the distance right until the Jim White marathon on September 1st.
Max Gradel shone under Christophe Galtier last season with the versatile winger playing a free role as a left-attacking midfielder, the Ivorian contributed with 17 goals he became the 5th top goalscorer in Ligue 1. The former Leeds United favourite was vital for Saint Etienne and has attracted interest from a number of Premier League clubs. Subsequently, the 27-year-old recently expressed his desire to leave France as he is quoted saying “I want to play in big competitions and push further”, however with a number of sides bewilderingly reluctant to pay the quoted £8m for in my personal opinion, the hottest available property in the Rhones-Alpes region, it’s clear that this saga has a number of complications…
The first major stumbling block regards with Gradel’s value. It’s been reported that Bournemouth and West Ham are reluctant to meet Saint Etienne’s asking fee of £8m. The Cherries tabled an offer of £5m for Gradel to which the bid was immediately rejected. Furthermore, it’s clear the newly promoted side with limited funds aren’t willing to increase their offer further especially with the recent arrival of Christian Atsu on loan from Chelsea, leaving the door left wide open for Southampton and West Ham to make a move. However, this isn’t the only complication surrounding the deal.
Moreover, Bournemouth have reportedly reignited their pursuit of English hot prospect Demarai Gray from Birmingham, an offer from Eddie Howe’s side would be their 6th attempt at prising the 18-year-old to Dean Court. Gray has attracted interest from several sides in the Premier League, including; Arsenal and Tottenham, however the assurances of regular first-team football could be enough to tempt the play maker to the South Coast. Demarai Gray and Max Gradel are like-for-like attackers, but with 9 years between them, it seems feasible for the Cherries to make the move yet again Gray.
In addition, it’s speculated that West Ham have been focusing all their efforts in France solely on Dimitri Payet. The Hammers have made an offer worth £14m for the French international and after several weeks of negotiations, English media believe they are confident that their improved offer will lure the 28-year-old to the Boleyn Ground for it’s season before moving to the Olympic Stadium. A vital factor in the deal could be that Payet shares the same agent as new West Ham manager Slaven Bilic, hence it can be foreseen that Gradel may be overlooked as Gold and Sullivan pursue the Marseille winger.
Last season, Max Gradel was integral in Saint Etienne’s late push for the Champions League as Les Vertes took the race to the final day of the season. The Ivorian bagged 13 goals in as many games in the run-in with braces against Lille, Guingamp and Evian, however, Galtier’s side were pipped to the post by AS Monaco who rounded off a successful season under Leonardo Jardim with a 1-0 victory away at Lorient. Saint Etienne finished 5th with automatic qualification for the Europa League for a consecutive season, a historic feat matching back to 1980 and 1981. Max Gradel admitted he wants to be playing in ‘big competitions’ and arguably Bournemouth, Southampton and West Ham won’t be offering the versatile winger already much more than the Europa League? With the Cherries still appearing the firm favourites to sign Gradel, this would surely raise the question from Saint Etienne supporters of a lack of ambition from the winger as he would be moving down to a relegation threatened side.
Premier League Experience:
Despite scoring 17 goals last season in the top flight in France, some could argue that Bournemouth would be taking a great risk spending the majority of their transfer budget on Max Gradel who has limited Premier League experience. The former Leeds United favourite is yet to establish himself in England’s top division and is eagerly awaiting his return to England, however without kicking a ball in the ‘worlds strongest league’, Gradel will bring an element of risk and if he fails to hit the ground running (similarly to Kramaric for Leicester), the Cherries could struggle. Bournemouth will be looking for vital experience to assure their survival in their historic debut season in the Premier League.
It’s clear that there are several complications could potentially halt any kind of deal for Max Gradel, yet should this saga continue in the same vein, who knows how long this Grey area may continue for – Deadline Day anybody?
Article written by: @Dale_TTT