Eddie Howe reveals how close Bournemouth came to signing Sunderland's Jermain Defoe

Eddie Howe, Bournemouth manager

Eddie Howe, Bournemouth manager

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Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has revealed he is a great admirer of Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe - but admitted he was never close to signing him.

The Cherries were strongly linked with a move for Defoe throughout last summer but the former England striker remained at the Stadium of Light and is Sunderland's top scorer with nine goals this season.

Bournemouth boss Howe has been speaking about Defoe ahead of tomorrow's crunch Premier League match - hailing his clinical finishing.

Admitting Bournemouth were unable to lure Defoe to the south coast this summer, Howe hailed big-money January recruits Benik Afobe and Lewis Grabban as ready to fire the goals to keep the Cherries in the top flight.

"No, it was never close unfortunately," said Howe, of the summer's attempts to recruit Defoe.

"He's a player I admire greatly as you can tell.

"But Sunderland are in a similar position to ourselves so there's no way they would want to lose him.

"It would be very difficult for any of our players to sit down and analyse Jermain Defoe, and neither should they really, because they want to be themselves.

"But there's certainly elements of his game that any striker can benefit from having.

"His movement is very good, his finishing, that was the first thing that struck me when working with him, how good his finishing is from all angles.

"It's quite unique how he finishes, he takes the ball very early, so I think it's very difficult to copy that.

"But certainly if you're a striker you can admire it.

"If you look at our strikers, how Benik (Afobe) finished his goal last week was hugely impressive for me, not just the finish in itself but the movement to get there.

"We believe in the players we have here that they have enough to score goals at this level."