It seems like a lifetime ago now that Jarrod Bowen was criticised for his performances at West Ham United. Form in the Premier League is very reactionary and after being signed for such a big price tag at the time — £18 million in January 2020 — the fans at the London Stadium were initially quite volatile and made his bedding-in process in east London all the more difficult. There was confusion over his position; was he a forward or a winger? And questions over whether he could adapt to the physicality of the game.
Flash forward two seasons and so much has changed. Aside from the global pandemic, David Moyes used his time behind closed doors to transform West Ham from midtable strugglers to the brink of European silverware, with two of their best league finishes domestically as well as a Europa League semi-final, where they were narrowly beaten by eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt.
Bowen’s versatility, which was once a topic of scrutiny, was now used to spearhead an exciting West Ham attack, and the 25-year-old’s good season was eventually rewarded with an England debut — albeit one that the Three Lions lost to Hungary.
Approaching his third full season, Bowen is one of the Irons’ most important players, but while the likes of Declan Rice and Michail Antonio look to have committed their futures to Claret and Blue for the foreseeable season at least, Bowen’s future is still unknown. With his next move looking likely to happen this summer, you wonder if the grass will be greener should Bowen head for pastures new.
Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool look to be the preferred suitor, with the Reds coming tantalisingly close to a famous quadruple, ultimately falling just short. If Bowen’s move is for the guarantee of trophies, then Anfield seems like the perfect destination, with the lure of recent League Cup and FA Cup successes surely enough of an incentive to trade allegiances. Bowen could be deployed as a winger or indeed, take a similar path as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and reinvent himself as a number eight, playing between the lines to allow the Reds a smoother transition to the front three.
Liverpool will likely be in need of another forward with Sadio Mané’s impending departure for Bayern Munich all the more likely. If they want to maintain their status as one of the favourites for the title amongst the football betting odds then a move for Bowen would make sense, especially with how complimentary Klopp was over him earlier this season.
“Bowen, what a player he became! Unbelievable.” He said: “We saw him as well at Hull and he was really good at that time. I’m not sure a lot of people expected this jump, but unbelievable player.”
The 25-year-old has also been linked with Manchester United as part of Erik ten Hag’s plans to rebuild the club in his first summer. Having scored 10 goals and provided eight assists at West Ham last season, Bowen’s productivity is just as good as the likes of Bruno Fernandes, and with Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata both departing Old Trafford for free at the end of their contracts, there is room for a creative midfielder to try and supply Cristiano Ronaldo.
With the World Cup on the horizon, West Ham’s guarantee of game time could be the incentive they need to keep Bowen in east London for at least another year. While there was once a dearth of versatile forwards in the England camp, the likes of Mason Mount, Conor Gallagher, Emile Smith-Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish will all be vying for places. Bowen will need to prove his worth to Gareth Southgate if he is to book his place on the plane to Qatar — for that to happen, he may well have to put plans for a move on hold for this summer at least.