Alex Scott’s £25m transfer decision seems crystal clear to us as West Ham and Spurs line up bids

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Alex Scott’s sensational season at Bristol City has precipitated a meteoric rise and Premier League feeding frenzy. Having started the final as England’s Under-19s won the European Championship in the summer of 2022, he swiftly established himself not just as a regular in the second tier, but as the beating heart of his side.

A brilliant ball-carrier with exceptional control and a knack for splitting midfields, he has been linked with a host of top level sides. Manchester United and Newcastle United were both linked with a bid in the build-up to the transfer window, while Pep Guardiola’s description of Scott as “an unbelievable player” following an FA Cup tie against Manchester City sparked some speculation that a move to the Etihad could be on the cards as well.

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As it stands, however, four clubs seem to have emerged as the top contenders for a player who seems set to become the best player from Guernsey since Matt Le Tissier (a fairly low bar to clear, admittedly) – Wolves, West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur and current favourites Bournemouth.

But where should Scott take his services, assuming he gets a choice? We break down the four main candidates and how the supremely gifted youngster could fit in to each club in the hope of determining what move he should make, and which club would benefit the most from securing his services – and with a rumoured £25m price tag slapped on the starlet’s head, the clubs in question had better be damned sure that he’s a good fit before they splash out.

Bournemouth

Should Bournemouth decide to spend £25m, Scott would become their joint record signing – level with Jefferson Lerma, who has since departed for Crystal Palace. That leaves a vacancy in midfield, but it isn’t entirely clear whether Scott is what they need.

New manager Andoni Iraola typically plays a 4-4-2 formation with an extreme high press and a focus on swift transitions and counter-attacks, especially down the flanks. That suits Scott down to the ground – he’s an absolute workhorse with impressive numbers for ball recoveries, and he was only just outside the Championship’s top 10 for attempted tackles. He’s also the kind of player who loves to dart down the channels with the ball, and while he has a huge number of progressive carry attempts right across the field he tends to attack down the flanks slightly more often.

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The downside is that his profile is pretty similar to Bournemouth’s main midfielders now – Philip Billing, Lewis Cook and Joe Rothwell (the latter especially being a player who has a broadly similar style and skillset to Scott). All three like to get the ball wide and tend to drift from their position, especially in possession – and the Cherries lack a player with that extra bit of positional discipline who can hold a central role and cut off counter-attacks, which is something Iraola’s teams have been extremely prone to thanks to their immense aggression and endlessly attacking mindset. Could one of the current players be persuaded to hold their ground more and give Scott the freedom to scurry down the channels and make his carries? Perhaps – but it isn’t guaranteed by any means. If Scott is signed rather than, say, a traditional holding midfielder, there’s a risk that the Bournemouth midfield becomes imbalanced. Of course, Iraola has such a million-mile-an-hour philosophy that he many not care…

Wolves

Julen Lopetegui’s interest in the young Robins man seems sincere, but £25m may be too rich for their blood given their struggles to meet FFP requirements – although the lucrative sales of Rúben Neves will give them considerably more breathing space there.

The Portuguese playmaker’s departure also leaves a yawning hole for Scott to fill. He’s a very different kind of player but capable of the kind of dynamism required to become a club’s creative nexus – not as a metronomic passer like Neves but as a direct ball-carrier who can spark attacks by breaking the lines.

Of course, Wolves’ biggest issue is that they may not have anyone to put the chances away. Goals have been a huge issue since the unfortunate injury and subsequent decline of Raúl Jiménez, and Scott isn’t someone who chips in much himself – he only registered one goal in the Championship during the 2022/23 campaign. He did set up five for others, but one wonders whether Scott would really be best served by becoming the main creative outlet for a team without anyone to finish moves off – and one suspects that Wolves need to spend what funds they do have on a forward before they worry about spending big on a developmental player like Scott.

West Ham United

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Probably second in the race as it stands, at least if the reporting is accurate. Scott is a candidate to fill the void left by Declan Rice and fits the bill in many ways as a capable box-to-box midfielder who can win possession and bring the ball forward at will. He isn’t quite up to Rice’s standards as a defensive midfielder, but from West Ham’s perspective, Scott certainly looks like a player who could grow into Rice’s substantial shoes.

From Scott’s standpoint, West Ham’s usual double-pivot formation should suit him down to the ground. Playing alongside a player like Tomáš Souček should give him the tactical freedom to make his darting runs without fretting about leaving space in behind while their wide forwards should give him passing outlets. Like Wolves, there’s still a glaring need for a reliable striker, but taken as a whole West Ham seem to have a more well-rounded team set-up as it stands, and look more likely to have a successful season ahead of them – not to mention that they can offer European football.

Tottenham Hotspur

Whether Spurs’ interest is serious or not is still unclear at this stage – and Scott certainly isn’t the priority for them, with a defensive overhaul currently Ange Postecoglou’s first order of business.

The Australian coach typically plays with a three-man midfield, and Scott would likely be expected to compete for the water-carrier role behind James Maddison. He would face tough competition for that spot with Pierre-Emile Højbjerg in the squad and Tanguy Ndombele likely to be given a chance to impress in pre-season – and however Spurs line up in the end, Scott would face some seriously stiff competition for minutes.

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Of course, Spurs are the only club on this list who have the resources to seriously challenge for Champions League football in the foreseeable future – and while he would likely get less game time in North London than in any his other plausible destinations, there’s an argument that the ceiling would be highest here.

The 3AM Verdict

Taking everything into consideration – West Ham look like Scott’s best bet. They’ve got a clear vacancy to fill in a structure that should suit his playing style, and seem to be moving in the right direction as a club. Bournemouth would likely be a lot of fun for the neutral, and they would certainly make full use of his skillset, but there’s also a lot of risk attached – both tactically and in terms of the very real chance of relegation.

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Wherever he ends up, the 19-year-old has a seriously bright future ahead of him – it’s just a matter of making sure he maximises it. We reckon West Ham give him the best chance of becoming the best player possible, but with such a steep price attached he may end up with less choice than his lengthy list of suitors suggests.

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