After chasing Wales international Chris Mepham for three transfer windows, AFC Bournemouth finally signed the central defender from Brentford in January.
At just 21-years-old, the 6ft 3″ defender had already made 43 appearances in the Championship, gaining plenty of experience in one the most physically intense leagues in the world.
A right-sided, ball playing centre back sounded the ideal signing to partner Dutch international Nathan Ake if ever present Steve Cook succumbed to an injury or suspension.
Considering Cook is AFC Bournemouth’s record appearance maker, sometimes failing to miss a minute of an entire campaign, Mepham may have expected to have been slowly eased into the first team fold following his move.
But Cook has succumbed to his first long-term injury since the Cherries have been in the top flight and is expected to be out for a further six weeks.
That has opened the door for Mepham to impress.
He has already made six Premier League appearances, with his debut coming against Chelsea
Mepham has also already featured against Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City.
AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe told the Daily Echo…
“…He has attacked it really well so far. Mentally he has shown real maturity and hasn’t been fazed by the occasions and the games.
“I have been really pleased with him and I see signs of a leader in there as well, which is a great sign for the future.
“He has come into the team and has not looked a new player, which I think is a huge compliment.
“…Chris has been thrown in against some of the best players in the world and I think that will do him the world of good. It will accelerate his learning and bring his game on in different ways.”
He was excellent against Huddersfield Town but I wouldn’t get too carried away with it in the same way I didn’t get too carried away by the performance in the Arsenal match. Huddersfield were utterly terrible. Really, really bad. We did the job and he ably contributed to that but that game isn’t anywhere near the benchmark at which we can tell too much about him at Premier League level.
However, I am starting to get a good feeling about him. He’s going to make mistakes and be exposed at times by the top teams but I loved the way he dribbled the ball out of defence and galloped up the field with it at one point.
Looks an astute buy at the moment. Even if it doesn’t work out I think we can all at least see why the recruitment team chased him for so long. Fingers crossed he keeps on showing quality over the next few weeks. It would be a luxury to have genuine quality in depth at Centre Back. – Join the conversation, click here.