Celtic and Middlesbrough target Jordon Ibe has played his last game for Bournemouth with Cherries boss Eddie Howe telling the Sun (1 June, page 62) that the winger is set to become a free agent at the end of the month.
Back in the summer of 2015, many a Liverpool fan was not too worried to see Raheem Sterling swap Anfield for Manchester City. They, as it was claimed at the time, had another fresh-faced young forward ready to step into Sterling’s shoes.
But five years on, while an England international has blossomed into one of the most prolific forwards in Europe under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, Ibe is set to find himself on the breadline having failed to live up to such lofty expectations.
A man who set Bournemouth back £15 million, plus £40,000-a-week in wages, will be released when his contract ends on July 1 – even though the Premier League season is set to run up until August.
“He’s not been training with us and he hasn’t for some time,” Howe says of Ibe, who’s last appearance for Bournemouth came ten months ago.
“His contract expires at the end of June and we are not going to offer him a new deal. For Jordon, there is the sadness from my side because it just didn’t quite happen for him on a consistent basis.
“I’ve said many times, he is outstanding physically and technically. But when a player doesn’t fulfil his potential under my management, it doesn’t sit comfortably. I hope Jordon goes on and has the career his ability should allow him to have.”
A powerful old-school wideman, in stark contrast to the jinking and scheming Sterling, Ibe could embark on something of a Scott Sinclair-style rejuvenation with a move north of the border.
The 24-year-old’s best performances at Liverpool arguably came as an overlapping wing-back. And, in Neil Lennon, Celtic have a coach who looks determined to perfect a free-flowing 3-5-2 system at Parkhead.
Ibe looks far better suited to the right-sided wing-back role than James Forrest or Hatem Abd Elhamed.