In typical Eddie Howe fashion, Bournemouth have completed a shrewd move to sign Huddersfield midfielder Philip Billing for £15m – a significant quality boost ahead of the new campaign.
The Cherries have signed Denmark under-21 midfielder Billing on a five-year deal from Championship side Huddersfield Town – after their relegation back in May.
Billing, 23, joined the Terriers from Esbjerg in 2013 as a youth player and made his senior debut the following year. He becomes Bournemouth’s third summer signing, after deals to sign defenders Lloyd Kelly (£13m from Bristol City) and Jack Stacey (£4m from Luton) were finalised earlier this month.
As quoted by the club’s official website, Billing revealed his happiness and said:
“I’m delighted to become an AFC Bournemouth player. As soon as I heard of the club’s interest, there was never any doubt in my mind.
It was an easy decision to make, coming into a squad full of talented international players, working with a manager of Eddie Howe’s quality. This is an exciting step forward for me and I can’t wait to get started.”
Despite the team’s collectively poor top-flight campaign, Billing stood out with consistently impressive displays. They largely struggled to cope against better sides but his performances, as well as that of Aaron Mooy, meant once the Yorkshire outfit were confined to relegation, it seemed inevitable that their best players would get poached elsewhere in the league.
Club chief executive Neill Blake said: “Philip may be young, but already has a wealth of first-team experience, including two Premier League seasons. Incredibly talented, has already proved himself at the highest level and has much more to come. He will add competition and further quality to our central midfield positions – this is another exciting addition to our squad.”
Billing made clear his intentions to secure a move away from the Yorkshire outfit this summer after their relegation back to England’s second tier. Having not been given a squad number ahead of the upcoming campaign, he was training away from the senior squad altogether and many club officials revealed his departure was inevitable at some stage before next month’s deadline.
Bournemouth are still in profit and should be looking to strengthen further ahead of the new campaign, having received roughly £37.5m for the sales of Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa, £20m), Lys Mousset (Sheffield United, £10m) and Connor Mahoney (Millwall, undisc).
Billing is a quality addition to Bournemouth’s side with plenty of upside and valuable Premier League experience. However, the move doesn’t come without some weary looks from club supporters, who hope they have not overpaid especially as they need to improve in other areas.
A midfield trio of Jefferson Lerma (24), Billing and Lewis Cook (22) is intriguing in prospect, while being a significant upgrade on Dan Gosling (29), Andrew Surman (32) and Harry Arter (29).
I’ve highlighted each player’s respective ages because in contrast, it’s clear that Howe is leaning more towards a younger base to build this Bournemouth side around. Experience is naturally still key but striking the right balance is too, so this move makes plenty of sense.
Another quality defender or two certainly wouldn’t hurt in terms of depth, as their over-reliance on Nathan Aké is clear. Chris Mepham has all the attributes to partner him in central defence for years to come, though it’s unlikely both will remain on the south Coast with interested teams monitoring their progress.