BY HENRY MHARA
WARRIORS striker Macauley Bonne could be playing in the English Championship again in the upcoming season with reports suggesting that the Charlton Athletic player is being eyed by Preston North End.
Athletic were relegated to League One at the end of last term, just after one season in England’s second-tier.
Their relegation, it appears sparked a scramble for some of their star players. One is Bonne who has been linked with a number of sides, including Burnley, Southampton and promoted Fulham.
Championship sides that have been reported to be vying for the 24-year-old’s signature include Tendai Darikwa’s Nottingham Forest, Norwich City, Cardiff City, Derby County, Luton Town and Blackburn.
However, reports from England suggest that it is Preston who are leading the chase for the striker, with the club expected to make their offer this week.
Alex Neil’s side, who finished four points off the play-off places, could make an opening bid of £500 000 plus add-ons this week, according to the reports.
“Preston are waiting to see what happens with Charlton’s financial situation. They see the 24-year-old former non-League striker Bonne as a rough diamond with bags of potential,” reported SunSport.
Charlton Athletic are likely to be booted out of the EFL unless current owners East Street Investments sell.
Touted as the next Jamie Vardy, Bonne jumped three divisions last season, and more than held his own in the Championship, scoring 11 goals.
Charlton have said they want to keep the Zimbabwe international, with the director of football Steven Gallen saying he hoped that the striker fires the club back to the Championship at the first time of asking.
Gallen also revealed that he was yet to receive any offers for the Warriors star.
He told London News Online: “I don’t want Macauley to go, no chance. I think he can go and score 15-20 goals in this division.
“He had a great return last season — 11 goals in the Championship having come from non-League.
“I don’t want Macauley to go and neither does (coach) Lee Bowyer. We’re really pleased no one has made an offer.”
Despite the rumours linking him with a move away, Bonne has continued to feature prominently in his side’s pre-season friendlies as they gear up for next season in the third division.
He started the friendly match against a full strength Premier League side Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday in a game the visitors lost 3-0. Jordan Ayew (brace) and Wilfred Zaha scored for the hosts.
Wigan Athletic begin their season with an EFL Southern Group G match against Wimbledon tomorrow, while the league campaign starts on September 12. Bonne, who was born in England to Zimbabwean parents, has only featured for the Warriors in friendly matches.
He is, however, expected to feature prominently for Zimbabwe in future national team assignments, having already sworn his allegiance to the country. He could not play for the Warriors in competitive matches before because he didn’t have a Zimbabwean passport. He has since been issued with a one.
Warriors coach Zdravko Logarušić has spoken highly of the forward and indications are that he will be included in the squad set to face Algeria in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in November.
Bonne had been included in the team against the African champions in March but the match was postponed after the coronavirus outbreak.
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