CHERRIES star Steve Cook admits transfer speculation is “flattering” but insists he wants to realise his Premier League dream during his time at Dean Court.
Cook is expected to be one of a number of the club’s leading lights to be linked with a move this summer following an impressive debut campaign in the Championship.
The classy defender, who is under contract to Cherries until 2016, turned in a succession of eye-catching performances as Eddie Howe’s men finished 10th in the second flight.
A £170,000 signing from Brighton in January 2012, Cook’s displays saw him linked with Crystal Palace, West Brom and Norwich – with Eagles boss Tony Pulis believed to be a firm admirer.
However, despite the interest, Cook, who made 39 appearances during his second full season as a professional, believes Cherries can help him fulfil his boyhood ambition.
In an interview with the Daily Echo, Cook said: “I think it is inevitable that some of our players will be linked with other clubs after the excellent season we have had. Bournemouth has always attracted interest from other clubs and you only have to see how many players have left in the past.
“But times have changed now and I don’t see any reason why the club would need to sell players because it is only going in one direction. Hopefully, next season we can build on the past couple of months and be where I think we should have been this season. The play-offs and maybe pushing for automatic promotion has to be the aim.
“There is always going to be speculation but, whether anything happens or not, is yet to be seen. As a player, you want to perform well in every game and you want to impress. If you do that and it gets you linked with higher-level clubs then it is flattering.
“The manager has said we should take it as a compliment and, from my perspective, I do. But everyone in this squad wants to play in the Premier League and, hopefully, it can be for this club. It is every boy’s dream to play in the top flight and we want to be pushing for promotion next season.”
Cook, who turned 23 last month, collected the Cherries goal-of-the-season award at the club’s annual presentation evening on Sunday following his spectacular overhead kick during the 2-2 draw at Ipswich on Easter Monday. He received his prize from special guest Tony Cottee, one of manager Howe’s boyhood heroes.