Premier League club finalises deal for young Phoenix ‘keeper

Alex Paulsen has completed a landmark move to the Premier League after a breakthrough season for the Wellington Phoenix.

The young goalkeeper has signed with A.F.C. Bournemouth, who recently finished 12th in their seventh season in English football’s top flight.

It is the biggest outgoing transfer in Phoenix history, eclipsing Sarpreet Singh’s move to German giants Bayern Munich in 2019.

“I’m humbled to be considered worthy of signing with A.F.C. Bournemouth in the Premier League,” Paulsen said.

“It means the world to me, my family and to my friends to be offered an opportunity to play in the best league on the planet, which most aspiring young footballers only dream of.

“Sarpreet, Libby Cacace and Ben Waine have laid the stepping stones for young New Zealand footballers like myself to dream big and be like ‘the world is our oyster’.”

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – JUNE 05: Alex Paulsen poses during a Wellington Phoenix media opportunity at NZCIS on June 05, 2024 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Paulsen, 21, played every minute of Wellington’s 2023-24 Isuzu UTE A-League campaign, having been limited to just five first team appearances in his first two years as a pro.

He kept a club record 11 clean sheets in 27 league matches this season and also saved three penalties, denying Adam Taggart, Jamie Maclaren and Ulises Dávila from the spot.

His performances have seen him receive numerous accolades. Paulsen scooped three gongs at the Phoenix awards night in April, he was voted captain of the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) team of the year last month and was named the A-League goalkeeper of the year, joint winner of the young A-League footballer of the year award and fans’ A-League player of the year.

Alex Paulsen also started in goal for the A-League All Stars in their 8-0 demolition of Newcastle United last month.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – JUNE 05: Goalkeeping coach Ruben Parker, Alex Paulsen and Director of Football Shaun Gill speak to media during a Wellington Phoenix media opportunity at NZCIS on June 05, 2024 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

“I’m proud of the accomplishments I’ve achieved alongside the club in what was the Phoenix’s most successful season.

“Without the trust and belief from the club, my teammates and staff I don’t think I would have been able to obtain and meet a lot of my personal objectives and goals.

“However, I am my own worst critic and I am obsessed with wanting to improve, so I really want to use this season as a foundation to scale up and take it to another level.”

Phoenix head coach Giancarlo Italiano is “stoked” for Paulsen.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – OCTOBER 28: Alexander Paulsen of the Phoenix saves a goal from a direct penalty during the A-League Men round two match between Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory at Sky Stadium, on October 28, 2023, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Andy Jackson/Getty Images)

“I’m really proud AP’s scored such a big deal with such a big club in the world’s best league,” Italiano said.

“It shows what we’re building here at the Phoenix by helping a young player move to a Premier League club.

“His move aligns perfectly with the club’s transfer strategy. The goal from day one was playing the young guys, getting them in the shop window and giving them the ability to progress to the next level.”

They are sentiments shared by the club’s director of football Shaun Gill.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – JUNE 05: Director of Football Shaun Gill speaks to media while Alex Paulsen looks on during a Wellington Phoenix media opportunity at NZCIS on June 05, 2024 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

“We are all thrilled for AP,” Gill said. “As well as being an exceptionally talented goalkeeper, he works incredibly hard on his game and is a great human being.

“We’ve seen him grow into the player and person he is now since joining the academy as a 15-year-old, and it’s fantastic the Phoenix have been able to help him secure a dream move to the Premier League.

“It shows there’s a clear pathway for young Kiwi footballers to come through our academy, play for the Nix and then make the step up to the very highest level.

“We look forward to helping more players realise their dreams of playing abroad.”