Scouts from Liverpool, Tottenham and Leicester have been viewers for a long while. That is only a shortlist.
When West Ham agreed a £20m-plus deal to prise Jarrod Bowen away from Hull City in January 2020, it ended the wait to see just which Premier League club would scoop up the Championship’s hotshot.
That hasn’t stopped the reconnaissance, however, but sharpened it. The curiosity as to how well the left-footed attacker, who can play across the offensive positions, would fair in the top-flight superseded the forecasting of Bowen’s adaptation.
Is he still an excellent threat from range? Can he still score often with his wrong foot from wide on the right? Does he still shoot quickly and hard? Has he reached his ceiling or is there still far more output he could scale?
At the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon, Bowen offered a taster of why so many of England’s top teams have tuned into him with a dynamic, tireless display in a tight 2-1 defeat against Manchester United.
The 24-year-old, whose allure is undoubtedly aided by the homegrown factor, helped West Ham soften the absence of the suspended Michail Antonio.
He created four chances, was credited with the assist for Said Benrahma’s opener, had four shots – forcing the first save from David de Gea, later testing him with a long-ranger – and was hugely efficient in possession.
What really impressed about Bowen was his work off the ball; consistently alert, on the move making the most sprints, showing great acceleration, being the first defender, winning most of his duels and contesting the highest number of them for West Ham.
He got stuck in, involved in all phases of their play and while the goals have not yet flowed this season, every other facet of his game: ball-carrying, energy in the press, movement and creation have been stellar.
Bowen’s final contribution was to be subbed off for Mark Noble to take a penalty at the death that De Gea saved. West Ham manager David Moyes admitted he needs to select and settle on an obvious spot-kick choice when his veteran option is not in play.
That man may very well be Bowen. But perhaps West Ham don’t want to become too reliant on a player they are very aware the scouts are still circling.
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