Though Artur Boruc has not admitted to a long-held admission to play up front for attempt any last-minute scorpion kicks, the Bournemouth veteran is one of the few ‘keepers in the top flight capable of rivalling a box of frogs in the madness stakes.
Either top-class or calamitous, sometimes both in the same game, Boruc has saved Bournemouth’s skin on plenty of occasions this season while costing them points on others. It’s no surprise, therefore, that manager Eddie Howe would be on the lookout for a more reliable upgrade.
And, according to The Sun, QPR’s Alex Smithies fits the bill. The newspaper reports that Asmir Begovic, who would probably have moved to the South Coast in January had Chelsea secured Craig Gordon, remains The Cherries top target.
But Smithies appears a fine alternative. The 27-year-old has been one of the most consistent shot-stoppers in the Championship this season and is slowly developing a reputation as England’s answer to Diego Alves. Like Valencia’s legendary Brazilian, Smithies has quite a knack at saving penalties with four stops to his name this season alone.
However, Bournemouth may face a tough challenge fighting for his signature. According to the Daily Mirror, Aston Villa were ready to offer £4 million in January only for Smithies to state that he was settled in London. A few weeks later, he signed a new contract until 2020.
And though it appears unlikely that the former Huddersfield goalkeeper will go back on his word, Aston Villa should jump at the chance to renew their interest if it appears that QPR may be willing to do a deal.
Manchester United loanee Sam Johnstone may have conceded just twice in his last nine games but, with Villa far from certain to sign him permanently, Smithies would plug the gap better than most. After all, Steve Bruce knows all about his qualities - Smithies saved a penalty from Jonathan Kodjia earlier in the season.
Therefore, if QPR are willing to listen to offers, Villa should not give up their pursuit yet.