Bournemouth boss Howe hints Defoe likely to join Rangers

The striker has slipped down the pecking order at Bournemouth and looks set rejoin former team-mate Steven Gerrard at Rangers

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has said no deal has been concluded to sell striker Jermain Defoe, but has hinted that the former Tottenham and Portsmouth man could be on his way to Ibrox soon.

Speculation has been rife that Defoe would be leaving the Cherries this window and various outlets reported on Friday morning that he is destined to join Rangers.

The 36-year-old has played just 22 minutes of Premier League football this season and has been an unused substitute in each of the Cherries’ last nine outings.

Speaking ahead of Bournemouth’s FA Cup third-round tie with Brighton this weekend, Howe refused to be drawn on the subject.

“No deal has been finalised,” he told reporters, “so until that moment happens, it would be foolish of me to comment, so let’s wait and see what happens in the next few days.”

“Any deal which does get agreed will be in the player’s best interest and what the player wants to pursue.

“From our side, I have said from day one, I love working with Jermain. The relationship we have had, how professional he has been and for the group of players. As I say, no deal has been finalised, so let’s see what happens.”

Defoe joined Bournemouth on a free transfer 18 months ago and has enjoyed mixed fortunes at the Vitality.

He failed to hold down a regular spot in the side last term and netted just four goals in 26 appearances, however, all four proved to be match-defining strikes which helped earn Bournemouth vital points.

Yet, despite Defoe’s indifferent time on the south coast, Howe was adamant he did not regret signing the former England international.

“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Howe responded when asked about Defoe’s transfer in 2017.

“He scored some massive goals for us last year, I don’t think anyone should forget that. They all earned us points – the game here against Brighton, if we had not won that, then who knows how our season would have unravelled, the two goals against Crystal Palace, the last-gasp equaliser against Watford, massive moments in our season.

“Then you add the other value that he brings in the changing room and on the training pitch and his experience, he has definitely been a role model for our younger players. It is something I would do again and again given the same circumstances.

Should Defoe join Rangers he will link-up with former team-mate Steven Gerrard, who he played with at international level.

Defoe earned 57 England caps and scored 20 goals. He is also one of one of the successful Premier League goalscorers ever, and can claim 162 top-flight strikes, a number only bettered by six players.

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