It was hardly smooth sailing, but West Brom are back in the Premier League.
Everyone’s favourite yo-yo club, or a ‘Fahrstuhlmannschaft’ as the Germans like to put it, are up into the top tier with a new look side and a fresh sense of optimism.
Maybe not with heaps of optimism, mind. Having led the Championship for large spells of the season, their worrying form towards the latter end of the campaign indicates that improvements must be made. Winning just three of their final 11 matches and none of their final four is ominous form ahead of their Premier League return.
There are a few spots in the team Slaven Bilic would like to reinforce for sure, with a sprinkling of recommendations additions listed below.
Three players who’ve impressed on loan since joining the club are Diangana, Robinson and
Krovinovi?, a trio of deals that should be looked at becoming full-time ones in the summer.
Robinson only managed three goals and two assists since joining in January, but these came in an unfamiliar wide left role and given the chance to play up front could see those numbers rise. He joined the Blades on a then club-record fee, and some negotiation will be needed on the price, but West Brom fans were impressed with his attitude and commitment since his arrival.
Bilic’s fellow Croat Krovinovi? joined from Benfica on loan at the start of the season and missed only six matches in their promotion winning campaign. The midfielder could cost as little as £6m to bring in, which would be a snip for a player who offered balance to the side and won over the trust of his manager.
In regards to Diangana, however, this deal is a must. The Hammers loanee bagged eight goals and set up a further seven in his 30 league outings, offering a creative spark that was key to the Baggies’ incredible start to the campaign. He’s won over the supporters during his time there and bringing him in permanently – or even on another loan – should be the club’s first port of call this summer.
A rumoured fee of £20m has been mentioned, which would be money well spent for a player who is clearly of top flight calibre.
Unable to get Premier League minutes being the understudy to Hugo Lloris, West Brom should seek to acquire Gazzaniga to both bolster their goalkeeper ranks – a boost for Tottenham, who could get their development project some much-needed game time.
A loan would be a smart move that benefits both parties. The Argentine can be prone to an error or two, but he’s also demonstrated enough quality to be able to feature regularly without buckling under the pressure.
West Brom, above all, need defenders for next season. Their current crop have done well to get them here, Semi Ajayi in particular, but they need reinforcements in the area to contend with the rigours of Premier League football.
Statistically, Jansson comes out on top in the Championship, but whether or not a move can be made will hinge entirely on whether Brentford can navigate their way up from the playoffs.
Someone with experience of the top flight would ideally be preferable, and Alfie Mawson – despite how poorly it went last time – has that. He too would only be available if Fulham don’t go up themselves.
Relegated Norwich don’t have much to offer their players, but those coming back up to the Premier League do – obviously. A few players could be set to leave Norfolk this summer to boost the Canaries’ bank balance, and making the most of that opportunity should be in the Baggies’ game plan.
One such player is Lewis, who despite being part of one of the worst defences in the history of the division, is an exciting player. Norwich played far too expansive football under Daniel Farke, leaving their goal wildly exposed, but Lewis could be a solid and cheap(ish) addition in a different model.
On loan at Swansea from parent club Chelsea this season, 20-year-old Gallagher has looked like a star in the making from his time on the Welsh coast. The forward laid on 11 assists in the second division playing in a variety of roles, but his talent really came to the fore when he was pushed forward into an attacking midfield slot.
Chelsea, as we know, love to loan their players out and won’t turn down the chance of granting an academy product the chance of top flight experience. Another one of those deals that suits all parties.
Somewhat more hopeful, however, is Cantwell.
Eyes across Europe have been fixed on forward this season, but it might be a touch too soon for the Norwich man to make the jump up to a top-six side. Due to that, West Brom should be looking into any potential deal, for the same reasons as with Lewis.
Would it be a bit of a stretch? Perhaps, but if they are serious about banishing their tag of ‘Fahrstuhlmannschaft’, then they must be looking to be ambitious.
Securing a striker capable of hitting the back of the net might sound like an obvious necessity, but unless you’re the likes of Sheffield United who share goals among their team with a defensive solidity in behind them, rarely ever can you sustain your status in the top flight without one.
Muriqi has been in superb form during his debut campaign at Fenerbahçe, with rumours of a move to England persisting throughout the year. He boasts physical presence and lethal finishing, two traits that are key when you’ve just come up. As, y’know, you don’t get many chances and set pieces are key. Think Roman Bedná?, just a better.
On a slightly less expensive route there is also free agent Lyle Taylor waiting in the wings. His decision to leave Charlton was far from amicable, but it doesn’t mask over his superb scoring rates of late. Netting more than a goal every two games with the Addicks is an impressive feat considering their league struggles, so offering him a few season in the top flight looks like a punt worth taking.
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