When Bournemouth signed Colombian Jefferson Lerma from Levante in the final week of the summer transfer window, it was a big statement by the club.
The record £25m fee was a signal of intent from The Cherries, that they are no longer happy with mid-table finishes, they want to push on.
Entering their fourth season of Premier League football, Bournemouth play an attractive brand of football at the south coast, thanks to manager Eddie Howe, who has become one of the most highly regarded and sought after managers in England.
So for 23-year-old Lerma (valued at £22.5m on Transfermarkt.co.uk), there is no better place to go and develop as a player. The box-to-box midfielder will be a great asset to Howe, as he hopes to shore up his midfield. The Colombian idolises Chelsea star N’Golo Kante, and if he can come anywhere close to replicating the Frenchman’s ability, The Cherries will be in a much better place.
So far, the midfielder has only made one appearances for Bournemouth, in a loss to Chelsea, but there is no doubt that he will grow at the club. He came after a good World Cup with Colombia, starting two matches and coming off the bench in two, as his country were knocked out by England. But throughout that tournament, he did himself no harm with regards to attracting bigger clubs.
His versatility will also please Howe greatly; he can play as a right-back or right midfielder, despite central midfield being his most comfortable position. It is there that fans and personnel at the Vitality Stadium will hope he forges a powerful reputation, capable of bringing Bournemouth to the next level.
There is the matter of his discipline which is still a grey area. In 29 matches last season, he received 19 cards, which is something that will damage The Cherries over the course of a season. But this could be put down to youthful exuberance, which may get ironed out of him as he progresses through his professional career. Furthermore, the aggression and physicality that Lerma plays with may suit the Premier League rather than La Liga.
Obviously, with this sort of ambition, other players fall by the wayside. Harry Arter was a casualty of Lerma’s arrival, with the 28-year-old moving to Cardiff on loan for the season. Nonetheless, these are the sort of signings and players that a club needs to progress up the ranks in the Premier League.
Whilst this signing may not launch The Cherries into the top six, it will further consolidate their position as a mid-table club in the Premier League, who can push on into the top ten regularly. Furthermore, success breeds success; the potential rise of Bournemouth from Lerma’s arrival will only put the club into a strong position to buy other players down the line.
Bournemouth showed their ambition last year by making a club record to sign Nathan Ake, and it paid off handsomely. They have continued to show their increasing confidence in the Premier League by singing Lerma, and they will not regret it come the end of the season.