Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Alex Paulsen moves to English Premier League club Bournemouth

Alex Paulsen had an excellent season for Wellington Phoenix. Photo / Photo sports

Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Alex Paulsen is set to make a life-changing move to English Premier League club Bournemouth. The young Kiwi has attracted interest from four teams, including three from the English top flight, and is set to secure a new record transfer fee for his A-League side.

Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Alex Paulsen is about to move into a new football stratosphere.

The Herald understands that Paulsen has signed a contract with English Premier League club AFC Bournemouth, who have been following the 21-year-old for some time.

It is believed there have also been advanced talks with another club, along with interest from at least two other Premier League clubs, including Liverpool. Negotiations concluded in recent days before Paulsen made his final decision.

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It’s been a heady few weeks for the All Whites goalkeeper, following his breakthrough A-League season in which he was a key figure in the Phoenix’s historic runner-up finish in the regular season. The Wellington club is believed to have answered questions from Chelsea, while talks have also been held with a Belgian club.

Although his talent is obvious, Paulsen is seen as a long-term investment as goalkeepers do not reach their peak until their late 20s and can play well into their 30s.

According to figures from Sky Sports UK, Bournemouth’s offer was in the region of £850,000 ($1.77 million) but could rise to as much as £2 million depending on performance and appearances. The contract is believed to be for three years.

Phoenix goalkeeper Alex Paulsen.  Photo / Photo sports
Phoenix goalkeeper Alex Paulsen. Photo / Photo sports

If the numbers are correct, it will be the largest transfer in Phoenix history. Nathan Burns’ move to FC Tokyo in 2015 was lucrative for the Wellington club, but was subsequently surpassed by the price Bayern Munich paid for Sarpreet Singh in 2019, which was between $800,000 and $1 million. Belgian club Sint-Truidense paid around $750,000 for Liberato Cacace in 2020, who has since moved to Serie A club Empoli.

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Paulsen had to bide his time behind Oli Sail and did not feature in a single league match in the 2022-2023 season before making his breakthrough in the recently completed campaign. He kept twelve clean sheets and was part of a defense that conceded just 26 goals in the regular season, the fewest in the league.

According to A-League stats, Phoenix’s backline also defied a significant expected goal disadvantage, resulting in 13 additional XG across the season. Those are the kind of numbers that turn heads and should have been noticed by Bournemouth’s global scouting and statistical analysis network.

It is believed that interest in Paulsen came directly from Bournemouth’s football department, rather than through Auckland FC, the latest addition to American billionaire Bill Foley’s clubs.

Liverpool’s familiarity with Paulsen may come from recently appointed sporting director Richard Hughes. Hughes had been technical director of Bournemouth’s first team since 2016, but announced in March that he would leave at the end of the season.

It’s easy to see why Paulsen is appealing. He is athletic, a strong shot-stopper and an impressive presence when crossing. He has also shown excellent anticipation and can play comfortably with either foot from the back.

Paulsen is expected to transfer to Bournemouth in July. It is not yet known how the signing will affect his possible appearance at the Paris Olympics next month with the Oly Whites.

AFC Bournemouth players celebrate a goal.  Photo / Photo sports
AFC Bournemouth players celebrate a goal. Photo / Photo sports

In one scenario, Paulsen could complete pre-season with the Cherries before they decide whether to take him out on loan to continue his development or remain in their environment.

Brazil’s Neto was their main custodian last season, making 32 EPL appearances, also using young Irishman Mark Travers (four games) and Romanian Andrei Radu (two games).

Radu has since returned to parent club Inter Milan, while another goalkeeper, former West Ham and Middlesborough stopper Darren Randolph, is also out of contract.

When contacted the HeraldPaulsen’s agent Tony Rallis said: “Alex has had three or four clubs express interest and make inquiries, both with us and through their own due diligence,” Rallis said. “There have been advanced discussions and we will make a statement once a decision has been made.”

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The Wellington Phoenix declined to discuss Paulsen’s possible move but issued the following statement. “We don’t comment on transfer speculation, but it’s fair to say there is a lot of interest in Alex as a result of his performances this season.”

Michael Burgess has been a sports journalist since 2005, winning several national awards and covering the Olympic Games, FIFA World Cups and America’s Cup campaigns. As a football fan, Burgess will never forget the noise that greeted Rory Fallon’s goal against Bahrain in Wellington in 2009.