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Chelsea prodigy turned Liverpool reject, now Dominic Solanke’s finally thriving

Dominic Solanke has gone from the best player at the U17 World Cup to a man who is scoring goals in the second tier via challenging times at Liverpool and Chelsea, but has his sights firmly set on reaching his potential

At the age of 24, Dom Solanke is finally thriving at first-team level

Dominic Solanke has had to take a few backward steps in his fledgling career already, but hopes that, under the tutelage of Scott Parker, he’s now on the verge of finally fulfilling a career that once looked so rich in promise.

A classic case of a young English player tipped for the top whose development stagnated as he struggled to get regular minutes in the Premier League. We’ve heard that story before.

Now, at the age of 24, Solanke is thriving in the Championship, scoring seven goals in his opening 10 games this term – no mean feat – for a Bournemouth side who topped the table before Tuesday night’s matches.

As a teenage prodigy, he won and starred in several FA Youth Cup triumphs whilst at Chelsea, but for a period being a promising young player seemed more of a curse than a blessing at Stamford Bridge.

Only now are Blues youngsters being given the chance to thrive in the first-team, which is why a free transfer switch to Liverpool made sense back in 2017.

While his move to Anfield was well received the reality proved quite different. Solanke scored just once in 27 outings for the Reds, struggling to break into their starting lineup under Jurgen Klopp, where Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were becoming entrenched as the first choice front trio, with cult fan favourite Divock Origi as back up.

So when the Cherries parted with £19m in January 2019 to sign a forward who had managed just the solitary professional goal, eyebrows were understandably raised.



Solanke scored just one goal during his time at Liverpool
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Image:

Liverpool FC via Getty Images)




Clearly they invested in his clear potential, what the striker could be, not what he was.

After all, Solanke helped England win the Under-20 World Cup back in 2017 and was named the tournament’s best player, thus earning him the Golden Ball.

He joined a roll of honour that also included names like Paul Pogba, Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Diego Maradona. The teenage sensation was also the first Englishman on the list.

So the talent was undoubtedly there.









But on the south coast Solanke was unable to help Bournemouth survive the drop, never fully trusted by Eddie Howe and having to act as backup to Callum Wilson. Thus, his senior career continued to go in the opposite direction to which many had expected when he was a Young Lion.

Last term however, down in the second tier, his goal tally reached double figures for the first time – despite Bournemouth’s somewhat chaotic return to Championship life.

The confidence brought by regular minutes looks to have seeped through to the current campaign where he has started with a bang – finally looking comfortable in senior football.

His new manager is certainly impressed with what he’s seen so far, citing him as the complete striker.



Solanke is leading Bournemouth’s attack this season as their No.9
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Image:

PA)




Will Dominic Solanke ever play for England again? Have your say in the comments.

“I’m really delighted with Dom, I’ve said many times I think he’s an all-round nine,” says Parker.

“He’s someone who has got everything in his game as a modern day No.9 really, a modern day number nine is not just about scoring goals and I know that sounds crazy, for a large part, of course it is.

“It’s a big part of the job putting the ball in the net, that’s why you have to pay them the most as it’s the hardest thing to do in the modern game.”

Solanke’s teammates have been equally as impressed with him.

Ryan Christie was bought in from Celtic in the summer – regularly working in tandem with Crystal Palace new boy Odsonne Edouard – and his expectations for the striker were certainly met.

“Listen, it only took me 10 minutes playing with Dom to realise how good a player he is,” he said. Before I joined, you are aware of good players like him

“But when you come in and play with them, play in the same team, you appreciate how good he is.”



As a young striker he was capped by England under Gareth Southgate




Solanke once rubbed shoulders with Brazil’s Samba stars during England’s 0-0 draw with Brazil back in 2017.

He no doubt still harbours international ambitions and getting promoted with his Bournemouth side and scoring goals in the process could be his best bet.

He’ll have been buoyed by seeing Patrick Bamford recently capped by Gareth Southgate. And the Leeds star’s route to the Three Lions squad very much started by scoring goals in the second tier – amid criticism and questions over whether he could perform at a higher level – before translating that form to the Premier League.

Solanke, like Bamford, struggled during his early top-flight tenure, but a player who thrives on confidence, like so many strikers, has time on his side time; playing in the second tier regularly, developing and scoring goals, may not be the worst thing in the world.

Harry Kane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin both scored goals in the lower levels before becoming prolific in the Premier League. Solanke is looking to do similar, after stepping back from the limelight.


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