England's Daily Mirror is reporting AFC Bournemouth - currently the 18th-placed team in the English Premier League, mired in a four-game losing streak - is looking for reinforcements up front and has an eye on Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Since joining the New York Red Bulls in 2013, BWP has been on an historic scoring spree by MLS standards. He matched the league's single-season scoring record in 2014, and followed that by matching the MLS record for goals scored in back-to-back seasons in 2015. He is already the third-highest goal scorer in all competitions in RBNY history. And he broke the club's (modest) playoff scoring record with the goal he scored in the Red Bulls' last match: the 1-0 win over D.C. United that sealed the club's place in the 2015 Eastern Conference finals.
Bradley Wright-Phillips can score goals. This was known when he was signed by RBNY: he scored more than 20 goals in both the 2010-11 (split between Plymouth Argyle and Charlton Athletic) and 2011-12 seasons. But those achievements were in League One - England's third tier of professional soccer. At higher levels, his strike rate was considerably lower. Indeed, it was one such characteristic scoring lull in 2012-13 that saw him drift away from Charlton (now a Championship club) to Brentford, and ultimately to RBNY.
But 51 goals in 84 appearances for the Red Bulls is a record that ought to attract attention. And it should not have gone unnoticed that he has maintained a high rate of scoring this season despite being asked to play a quite different role from that which he fulfilled in 2014.
Last season, he was a pure striker, deployed as far up front as he could persuade his markers to permit, chasing passes into the final third, visibly working very hard to make his first touch the last one before the ball hit the back of the net. This year, he is the nominal lone forward in a fluid attacking quartet, as likely to be required to create chances as he is to be asked to finish them. He has proven himself not just effective, but also versatile.
Whether his skills translate well to the Premier League is, of course, a different question altogether. But no great surprise the rumor mill has finally found its way to BWP.
The Mirror suggests BWP is just one of several striking options Bournemouth is considering. And the article's phrasing suggests this is a fairly tenuous rumor: the club has been "alerted to the possibility" of securing BWP's services on loan for some unspecified period of time; the player "could be open to a temporary return" to England.
For his part, BWP has made it quite clear he is very happy with his current circumstances:
"If it was up to me I'd never leave, I love it here" -@TheRealBWP on #WynaldaTalksFootball— SiriusXM FC (@SiriusXMFC) November 10, 2015
And the last team to ask him to step away from RBNY for a bit is still waiting for an answer.
None of that, of course, prevents BWP from being interested in testing himself in the Premier League. The rumor mill is just kicking into gear for the winter transfer window. If it is true that Wright-Phillips is thinking about a stint back in England - and even if it isn't - this is probably not the last time we'll hear his name linked to a move away from Red Bull Arena.