Wellington Phoenix’s homegrown talent, Alex Paulsen, has joined the ranks of Australian players making their mark in Europe’s top football leagues.

The 21-year-old goalkeeper has signed with English Premier League team AFC Bournemouth in what Wellington Phoenix has termed their “largest outgoing transfer in history,” surpassing Sarpreet Singh’s 2019 transfer to Bayern Munich.

Paulsen was instrumental in Phoenix’s impressive 2023-24 season, where the New Zealand club finished second in the A-League Men. He set a club record by keeping 11 clean sheets in 27 matches, helping Wellington finish 11 points ahead of Melbourne Victory.

“I’m honored to join AFC Bournemouth in the Premier League,” Paulsen said. “This opportunity means everything to me, my family, and friends. Playing in the world’s best league is a dream for many young footballers.”

Bournemouth, located on England’s south coast, recently concluded their Premier League season in 12th place.

Born in Auckland, Paulsen is the latest Wellington player to move to Europe, following midfielder Sarpreet Singh, now with Germany’s Hansa Rostock; defender Libby Cacace, playing for Empoli in Italy; and forward Ben Waine, with Plymouth Argyle in England.

Next season, Paulsen will join Australian players Harry Souttar (Leicester City), Cameron Burgess, and Massimo Luongo (both Ipswich Town), and Joe Gauci (Aston Villa) in the Premier League. Other Australians like Alessandro Circati (Parma, Italy), Jackson Irvine, and Connor Metcalfe (both St Pauli, Germany) will also feature in Europe’s top leagues in 2024-25.

Adelaide United’s young star, Nestory Irankunda, is also on the verge of a major move to Bayern Munich.

Paulsen, who has represented New Zealand at the under-17 and under-23 levels and was named Wellington’s player of the year, is anticipated to represent his country at the Paris Olympic Games. He recently showcased his skills in the A-League All Stars’ 8-0 victory over EPL side Newcastle United.

His transfer follows closely on the heels of Perth Glory’s Daniel Bennie joining English Championship team Queens Park Rangers.

Wellington coach Giancarlo Italiano expressed his pride, stating, “I’m really proud of AP’s achievement with such a prestigious club in the world’s best league. It highlights the progress we’re making at Phoenix by enabling a young player to advance to the Premier League.”

This story includes information from AAP.