CELTIC manager-in-waiting Eddie Howe will target Bournemouth captain Steve Cook as one of his key summer transfers.
Cook was a defensive warrior for Howe at the Vitality Stadium during the Cherries’ rise from League One to the top flight.
Ex-Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe and Steve CookCredit: Getty
And the 29-year-old, approaching 400 games for Bournemouth over ten years, will be available on a free as his contract is up in June.
The unflinching Cook was linked with West Ham last October but stayed put as the Cherries try to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
They are currently just outside the Championship play-off zone.
The feeling is Cook will leave if they fail to go back up, but even with promotion he could find it hard to reject a Howe reunion at Celtic.
Cook in action for BournemouthCredit: Getty
The Hoops squad will need an overhaul in the summer, with four loan players returning to their clubs, plus the likes of Odsonne Edouard, Kris Ajer and Ryan Christie possibly moving on and captain Scott Brown heading to Aberdeen.
They are especially threadbare at centre-half, with Christopher Jullien not expected to play again until the end of the year and youngster Stephen Welsh and the injury-prone Nir Bitton the only other options.
Cook could even be seen by Howe as Celtic’s next captain.
SunSport has been first all week with developments at Parkhead, including the stunning move for the highly-rated 43-year-old to replace Neil Lennon.
We revealed Howe had been sounded out and indicated his interest in the position.
Then we disclosed his face-to-face meeting with major shareholder Dermot Desmond and outgoing chief executive Peter Lawwell in London.
SunSport also exclusively reported that Howe had agreed in principle to being the new Hoops manager, subject to finer details being ironed out, including guarantees on a transfer kitty and authority over picking his backroom staff.
The Celtic hierarchy are confident they can announce him this week.
Key to Howe coming north is current Bournemouth technical director and close friend Richard Hughes joining him at Parkhead.
The five-times capped ex-Scotland midfielder is believed to be attracted by the challenge of wrestling the title back from Rangers.
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