In recent months, England Under-20’s international James Hill had been linked with La Liga giants Barcelona, with the Spanish side sending scouts to a game between Fleetwood Town and Burton Albion in October.
Hill also had interest from a number of Premier League and Championship sides as he entered the final months of his contract at Fleetwood Town.
Sheffield United were one club, hoping their past ties with James Hill’s father Matt Hill, who played for Sheffield United between 2012 and 2014 would help them secure a deal according to the Sheffield Star.
The local newspaper reported that Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Leeds United and Southampton had all been linked recently.
However, less than 24 hours ago, AFC Bournemouth were first reported to have an interest in the 19-year-old, with The Sun reporter Tom Barclay posting on Twitter that a deal worth around £1.6million had been agreed.
I'm told Bournemouth are set to sign England Under-20 centre-back James Hill from Fleetwood. Would be a club-record fee for the Cod Army of £1.6m plus extras
— Tom Barclay (@TomBarclay_) January 5, 2022
Within hours, the deal was done and formally announced. Officially the transfer is undisclosed, with Hill signing a four-and-a-half-year deal at Dean Court.
So what sort of player have AFC Bournemouth snapped up? CodsChat on Twitter describe Hill as “physical, good in the air, but also good with the ball at his feet and will only improve at a higher level with more time.“
The interest from elite clubs shows the progress of the player, who less than five years ago was being rejected by the likes of Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers. Not deterred by his setbacks, Hill made his senior debut for Fleetwood in the Football League Cup on 28th August 2018, aged just 16 becoming the sides youngest ever player. By August 2019 he was making his Football League debut and has gone on to make 41 League One appearances.
From boy to man 👊
It’s been a pleasure to watch James Hill develop through our @academyftfc to the first team and beyond.
— Fleetwood Town FC (@ftfc) January 5, 2022
— AFC Bournemouth 🍒 (@afcbournemouth) January 5, 2022
AFC Bournemouth Chief Executive Neill Blake told afcb.co.uk following the announcement…
“We are delighted to have James on board. He is a player who is a great fit for the club and I’m sure will prove to be a huge asset for us.
“Unsurprisingly there was a lot of interest in James and the fact he has chosen to come here speaks volumes for this club and the direction the team is moving in under Scott Parker.”
BBC Radio Solent reporter Kris Temple believes that Hill, could even make his debut on Saturday as he isn’t cup-tied and could go straight into Parker’s FA Cup third round squad to face Yeovil Town.
🍒 Hill also didn’t play for Fleetwood in the #FACup this season, so would be available for #AFCB’s tie at Yeovil on Saturday. Looks an ideal game to come in & integrate with team-mates, with SP likely to make wholesale changes.
— Kris Temple (@kristemple) January 5, 2022
I think this guy will be straight in and around the first-team squad. Lots of genuine “big” club interest in him. As well as insurance for Cahill I think he may well be insurance against Kelly moving on in the future. – Join the conversation, click here.