AFC Bournemouth are close to beating Premier League rivals Watford to the signing of a midfielder being dubbed the ‘new Lionel Messi’.
The Hornets have been linked with Roma star Juan Iturbe in recent weeks but the Bournemouth Echo claims Eddie Howe is “close to finalising” a deal for the 22-year-old.
The newspaper claims Watford had agreed terms with the player but pulled out of the running when the Cherries entered the fray, with the Vicarage Road outfit refusing to be drawn into a bidding war.
The report suggests Bournemouth will initially sign Iturbe for a £1.1m loan fee with an option to make the deal permanent for £16m – an option that would largely depend on the Cherries’ top flight status remaining intact.
Iturbe has also been linked with the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool after a string of dazzling displays since being snapped up by Roma from Verona in 2014.
Bournemouth have coped admirably in the face of an injury crisis in recent weeks, beating Chelsea, Manchester United and West Brom without being able to call on Tommy Elphick, Tyrone Mings, Max Gradel and Callum Wilson.
The mini-revival has eased the Dean Court faithful’s relegation fears somewhat but Howe is not taking any chances and is likely to add to his squad in the New Year in a bid to ensure survival, starting with Iturbe.
Bournemouth are next in action at home to Crystal Palace on Boxing Day and the Cherries go into the tie as 13/10 favourites to claim all three points. Palace can be backed at 2/1, with the draw available at 23/10.
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