HARARE – English League One side Charlton Athletic are determined to keep Warriors forward Macauley Bonne despite renewed interest from more Championship clubs to sign the 24-year-old.
This comes as Premier League side Burnley are still interested in the Warriors forward during the transfer window which ends on October 5.
The South London Press newspaper yesterday reported that Charlton, who began their League One campaign last weekend with a 0-2 away win over Crewe Alexandra, recently rebuffed a lucrative bid for the Zimbabwean.
But with more than two more weeks before the transfer window closes, there is bound to be more bids for the in-demand Warriors forward.
Ever since the club’s relegation from the Championship on the final day of the season last July and subsequent boardroom squabbles, a number of teams have tried to sign Bonne on an undercut price.
Even though there is huge uncertainty around Charlton due to a court case surrounding the club’s ownership and a takeover bid from businessman Thomas Sandgaard, the feeling at the Valley is that Bonne represents the Addicks’ hopes of a quick return to the Championship.
Bonne, who signed for the club for a fee of around £200 000 from Leyton Orient the previous summer, went on to score 11 goals during an injury-plagued season in the Championship.
For most parts of last season, Bonne was coach Lee Bowyer’s second choice striker behind Lyle Taylor.
But when Taylor’s contract standoff with the club began, the Zimbabwean was thrust into the spotlight and showed much potential for the Addicks.
Bowyer certainly is now pinning all of Charlton’s hopes on Bonne and has backed the striker to improve this campaign.
“The one thing I guarantee is he’ll improve again. From the player we received last year to the player we have today there’s a massive difference. I can’t tell you how big a difference — it’s frightening the way he has developed in one season.
“People say at times I’m harsh on people and at times I’ve said stuff — but I do it for a reason. Because I have to push him. If I just accept a performance that I don’t think is acceptable but I just accept that as okay then he’s going to stay at that level — that’s how it works.
“For me to push him — that’s my job. Since I did criticise Macauley he has improved again loads,” Bowyer told the Charlton website earlier this week.
The former England and Leeds United winger feels Bonne offers so much more to the side than just goals as he does a lot of running and creating space for teammates. “Part of my thing with Macca is to forget the goals — it is what he does in front of goal, because he needs to improve on that and be an all-rounder.
“You see what we did with Lyle (Taylor) — he is now an all-round striker. For Macauley to be that and go to another level he had to improve.
“With his physique he should be stronger and bullying defenders — that’s what Lyle ended up doing. Macca was too soft. So I had to criticise and push and push him.
“The reason I praised him last Saturday was he was nigh-on unplayable from a physical aspect. We have to tidy up certain things and that’s what we’re doing. If we get that physical side then we’re laughing,” Bowyer added.
Once Bonne gets his physique right, Bowyer believes the Zimbabwean can be a force to reckon with and drive Charlton to promotion.
“Too many times last season he was too soft for a lad of his size. Now he is using his physicality much, much better and retaining the ball better for us.
“Sometimes you have these rough diamonds that, as you make them better and better, your team gets better and better. That’s why I want Macauley to go up another notch or two.”