The summer transfer window rumour mill seems to be in full swing, with Celtic linked with yet another player, ahead of a big season both domestically and in Europe.

AFC Bournemouth central defender Chris Mepham is the next individual to be touted for a move north of the border, as the Wales international enters the final year of his deal with the Cherries. Reports have circulated over an £8 million price tag being lodged on the defender, who has previously played for Brentford in the Championship as well as his current side.

In light of this link, The Celtic Way’s Ryan McGinlay spoke with Bournemouth Echo’s Jack Tanner, as the club gets set for a busy summer ahead of a long campaign later this year…

Standing at 6”4’, 46-times capped Mepham is an imposing figure whenever he steps out onto the park. Having been at Bournemouth for over five years, Tanner has a good idea of what kind of player the Harrow-born defender is. He said: “When Bournemouth signed him back in 2019, he had the physical tools needed for then-manager Eddie Howe.

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“He possesses good height and does not find himself bullied a lot at the back because of that. He also has calmness and composure when he is on the ball, which is what Howe liked in his central defenders. In terms of his main strengths, again I go back to his height, which makes him very good in the air. He’s not particularly beefy, but you can very much tell that he's physically capable of putting in a shift when dealing with attacking pressure.

“He's not the fastest defender, however, and he can at times be caught out when making the wrong decision at the back. It has to be said though, that when he makes a defensive error, it is usually not his fault or his positioning, but rather the fault of the defensive quartet as a whole. It just so happens that Mepham is the player that gets caught out.”

One quick glance over Mepham’s appearance statistics will paint a picture of a lack of game-time for the defender, especially recently. Indeed, he made just 13 appearances in all competitions last season for Bournemouth under highly-rated Spanish manager Andoni Iraola, as the defender found himself either benched or out injured for large spells in the 2023/24 Premier League campaign.

Despite this, he has still amassed over 121 appearances over his five-year stay at the Bill Foley-owned side. Tanner explained the situation concerning his limited minutes. He said: “For the most part of his Bournemouth career, he has served as a rotation option at the club.

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“I think it was the first season back in the English Championship where he was a first-choice defender for a decent stint. Even then, he didn’t start every single game, and nowadays he just isn’t the first name on the teamsheet at any point. Part of the reason why is because of his injuries, but unfortunately for Mepham, the club now have really good options at centre-half currently.

“When he first arrived at the club, he was seen as a player that was perhaps one for the future, but after a year and a half the Cherries were back in the Championship, so the project changed due to that and because of Howe’s departure. Whatever plans the manager had for Mepham changed because of Howe leaving the club.

“In general, you get the sense that the player isn’t happy with being a second or even third-choice option. It does make sense that Mepham is being linked with moves away from Bournemouth as a result.”

Funnily enough, Mepham will reunite with an old teammate in defence if he makes the move to the Scottish champions in the shape of the colossal Cameron Carter-Vickers. The defender played alongside the USA international in the 2020/21 season at the back, with both featuring in the play-off semi-final defeat to Brentford. Tanner reckons the pair complemented each other well in the short time they played together. He said: “They played just eight games together at Bournemouth, but Carter-Vickers was always the more notable player out of the two.

“I think that his strengths lend well to Mepham’s shortcomings in some areas. In my mind, Carter-Vickers has got a bit of a pace advantage over his former teammate, but the two worked quite well, especially when the American swept up after Mepham due to his lack of speed.

“I must say that Carter-Vickers stood out in his time at the Cherries.”

With Mepham entering the last year of his deal, the temptation may be for the player to move on, and for his club to cash in while they still can. Tanner can realistically see his local team doing this, but only at the right price. He said: “Bournemouth are in a position with Financial Fair Play (FFP) that they don’t really need to sell Mepham.

“If they did so, they would have to rely on getting another player through the door first before allowing the defender to leave. If Mepham is currently happy in his current role at Bournemouth, then the club will be more than happy to keep him for that purpose.

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“Particularly for his international ambitions, however, he may want to move to play more minutes. It is a move that could suit all parties, and it does make sense, both financially and from a players’ perspective.

“Bournemouth did pay quite a bit for him back in 2019, so for FFP purposes they’d be looking for a bit back. The £8 million quoted does not seem entirely unreasonable to me, but with it being the last year of his deal then that fee may end up being lowered as a result.

“The £8 million price tag seems to be the benchmark, but I can’t see him going for any less than £5 million this summer.”