Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud says he has great admiration for Bournemouth’s new signing Benik Afobe after he dropped down to the Championship to rebuild his career, the club’s official website report.
Afobe began his playing days with Arsenal but, after a lack of first-team opportunities, he left north London for the Championship, joining Wolverhampton Wanderers in January 2015.
A stunning goal record for Wolves later prompted Premier League interest and Arsenal’s upcoming opponents Bournemouth signed him for a club-record fee during this year's January transfer window.
Speaking on his rival striker, Giroud says he has nothing but respect for the path Afobe has taken.
"Football is a tough sport and you need to be ready physically and mentally as well. It’s a huge part of the job. When you come from a lower league, you build mental abilities," Giroud explained.
"You need to get more experience and more time on the pitch, it’s very important when you are younger to improve yourself. Benik has done that in the past and now he is ready to play in the Premier League. He’s showing that he’s got the quality to score goals, so it’s nice for him.
"Since he’s joined Bournemouth, he’s scored in almost all of the games that he’s played so he’s a big threat. We need to keep an eye on him, definitely."
Giroud can relate to Afobe’s path to the top, having dropped down to the lower leagues in France before returning with Montpellier and later helping the minnows remarkably win Ligue 1.
While Afobe may not get his hands on a Premier League winner's medal anytime soon (although you never know, just look at Leicester...), he could do the next best thing and help preserve Bournemouth’s top-flight status by firing them to safety.
So far, the 22-year-old has netted three goals in four league matches for the Cherries - and he will be desperate to add to that tally when his side face the Gunners at Dean Court on Sunday afternoon.