BOSS Eddie Howe welcomed Lewis Grabban’s decision to stay with Cherries – but acknowledged the striker could court further interest if he kept producing the goods.

Grabban, who had been the subject of a bid from Brighton, rejected their advances in favour of signing an improved three-and-a-half year deal with Cherries.

The 26-year-old penned his new contract ahead of Saturday’s Championship clash with Watford before scoring and missing penalties during a fractious 1-1 draw.

Grabban, who has netted 11 times for Cherries this season, has been a pivotal figure as Howe’s men have started to find their feet in the second flight following promotion.

Howe told the Daily Echo: “We were really pleased he stayed. Lewis has been a star performer for us this season and you only have to look at the goalscoring charts to know how important he is for us.

"He has led the line really well on his own in recent weeks and his performances have been second to none.

“When the bid came in from Brighton, our hands were tied due to the (release) clause in his contract. But he gave us an opportunity to talk to him after he had spoken to them and we are very thankful he has decided to stay.

“He has conducted himself very well throughout this process. He never closed the door on us and never said he didn’t want to be a Bournemouth player. He acted like a gentleman so, in that respect, I have a lot of time for him.”

Asked whether he feared Grabban’s form could alert other clubs, Howe replied: “If he carries on playing like he is then possibly. I hope that is the case because it would mean he had scored a lot more goals for us.

“I think he is happy here. He is playing regularly, he is scoring goals and I think he has recognised that he has improved dramatically in the past year. He has decided that he sees his future here and that is great news for us and our supporters.”

Grabban, who joined Cherries in a £300,000 move from Rotherham in July 2012, said: “I just decided that my future was best at Bournemouth. I never once said I was 100 per cent leaving.

"It is just how football runs. If someone comes in for talks, you see what they have to say. But I decided to stay here and it was a positive outcome.”

Asked how close he had come to leaving, Grabban replied: “I can’t judge it. There was no closeness. I never said I was going to leave, I just heard what Brighton had to say and decided to stay.

"I am happy here. It is nice to be scoring goals in the Championship and, hopefully, that will continue for a long time.”