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West Bromwich Albion

How can Alan Pardew use the January transfer window to re-invigorate West Brom?

Scott Challinor

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West Brom
Photo: Reuters

Alan Pardew will have been under no illusions as to the scale of the task at hand when taking the helm from Tony Pulis at West Bromwich Albion.

Financial Fair Play (FFP) continues to closely monitor the club’s heavy investment in bringing in players, investment which has thus far failed to bear fruit for a Baggies side that has scored just 16 goals in their opening 22 Premier League games, conceding 30.

Such a run has left Albion in the bottom three with a meagre 16 points, four from safety with just two wins and ten draws to their name all season.

Pardew hasn’t managed to register a victory in the league as of yet, but has helped stem the tide somewhat with four draws from his eight matches in charge, including three clean sheets.

The FA Cup Third Round yielded a confidence-boosting first win in charge for the new manager. However, the Baggies putting in a professional performance to see of League Two high-flyers Exeter City in a 2-0 away victory.

Question marks remain as to just how much Pardew will have his hands tied by FFP regulations, but the areas in need of strengthening are strikingly obvious.

Goal-shy Albion lack a prolific goalscorer, and seeking out a match-winner will likely be first on the list of Pardew’s priorities, whilst the experienced boss will almost certainly be looking to add reinforcements to his leaky defence, particularly with the ever-present and reliable Jonny Evans continuing to be linked with a move away from the Hawthorns this January.

Addressing the club’s profligacy in front of goal first, Pardew still has a wealth of options to pursue in January, despite the recent blow of transfer target Cedric Bakambu, currently of Villarreal, opting to sign for Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan. One such option, which may just prove a shrewd move on Albion’s part, is Liverpool forward Danny Ings.

Competition is inevitable in the Baggies’ bid to acquire the former Burnley and Bournemouth forward’s services, with the Reds prepared to allow Ings to leave on loan in a bid to re-ignite his career following a serious knee injury.

Ings netted 11 goals in his last full-season in the Premier League for Burnley back in 2014/15, with his last top-flight appearance coming against the Baggies on the final day of the 2015/16 campaign. Such a goal ratio would prove a useful contribution to Pardew’s squad, with both Jay Rodriguez and Salomon Rondon struggling for consistency in front of goal.

Pardew has made no secret of his interest in adding the Liverpool man to his forward-line, whilst the forward has also attracted interest from former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, who is keen on bolstering his attacking options at Newcastle.

It is not the only transfer target on Albion’s radar that the Magpies are attempting to shoe-in on either, if reports from ESPN are to be believed, with both clubs believed to be in the market for Red Star Belgrade forward Richmond Boayke.

Despite failing to make the grade at Everton‘s Europa League conquerors Atalanta, and only putting pen to paper on a permanent deal with Serbian outfit Red Star Belgrade in the summer, Boayke is one option that Pardew could pursue to remedy his side’s lack of cutting edge.

The Ghanaian has netted 17 times for club and country in the opening six months of Red Star’s season, including a purple patch of eight goals in three league matches.

Known for his pace and power, ESPN linked the Baggies with a move for Boayke back in December, with Albion scouts thought to have been in attendance during Red Star’s goalless Europa League draw with Bundesliga side Cologne. Both clubs face heavy competition for the forward, however, with the London Evening Standard linking Boayke with a move to Chelsea.

One option that would suit West Brom’s style of play particularly well is Bournemouth forward Benik Afobe, with the Daily Express linking Albion and local rivals Wolves with a January move for the forward back in September.

Afobe had seemingly fallen down the pecking order at the Vitality Stadium following the return to fitness of Callum Wilson and the arrival of Jermain Defoe from Sunderland, but injury to the latter has thrust Afobe back into Eddie Howe’s plans over the festive period and the Cherries may be unwilling to allow him to leave in such circumstances.

Should Pardew’s pursuit of either of that forward trio prove fruitless, an alternative option may be that of Sheffield Wednesday striker Gary Hooper, whom the Baggies were linked to  back in October, alongside fellow strugglers Crystal Palace and Brighton.

The forward picked up an injury in Wednesday’s Boxing Day victory at Nottingham Forest and hasn’t featured since, but has netted eleven goals already this campaign and could prove a clever investment upon his return to fitness.

With Wednesday’s promotion bid seemingly off the rails, with the club 16th in the Championship and having sacked manager Carlos Carvalhal, the Owls’ resolve to hold onto their main man could be seriously tested if Albion were to come in with a bid.

Hooper certainly has the goalscoring pedigree to succeed in the Premier League, having featured in the top-flight for Norwich in the past as well as having a hat-full of Champions League goals to his name from his time with Scottish giants Celtic, but the biggest doubt hanging over a move will be regarding when the forward will be match-fit again.

In spite of such permutations in the market, two attacking options do remain realistic for the Baggies. With Newcastle United content to provide competition for Albion targets, Pardew may well be tempted to pull off an audacious raid on St. James’ Park for out-of-favour striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.

The Serb is known to desire a move away from Tyneside this month in pursuit of regular football having made just six appearances for the Magpies this season.

With opportunities scarce under Benitez, should Mitrovic attempt to force through a move, a bid may just tempt much-maligned Newcastle owner Mike Ashley to part ways with Mitrovic for a fee, even if it was to a Premier League relegation rival.

One Premier League club that may well be willing to part with a forward in Albion’s favour is Leicester City, with question marks looming over the future of their £30 million Algerian striker Islam Slimani.

The former Sporting Lisbon hit-man has fallen down the pecking order at the King Power Stadium since the departure of Claudio Ranieri last season, and hasn’t been helped by Shinji Okazaki’s recent return to form and the summer arrival of Kelechi Iheanacho from Manchester City.

Albion were monitoring the forward back in 2016 before he opted to sign for Leicester, and Pardew could do worse than attempt to lure the forward across the Midlands, particularly since his New Year’s Day strike against Huddersfield showcased that Slimani still has much to offer in the Premier League.

Time will tell on that front, however, as to whether that performance has subsequently propelled him back into the plans of Foxes boss Claude Puel.

Shifting focus to Pardew’s need to strengthen his defensive options, despite Jonny Evans’ future remaining uncertain, he appears in no panic to recruit a centre-half, following Ahmed Hegazi’s arrival in the summer and Gareth McAuley’s successful return to the side against Exeter.

The Baggies do notably lack depth in the right-back position though, with Craig Dawson having only recently returned to fitness, and Allan Nyom being the only natural alternative option in the position.

With Evans linked with a move to Arsenal, French outlet L’Equipe suggests that Albion may look for the Gunners to return the favour, in allowing them to sign French right-back Mathieu Debuchy.

With no Premier League appearances to his name this season, Debuchy is thought to be keen for a move away from the Emirates in the hope of forcing himself back into Didier Deschamps’ plans for the French National Team ahead of the World Cup, having missed out on Euro 2016 due to injury, and a switch to the Hawthorns could prove the ideal opportunity should Pardew make an approach.

Another realistic target at full-back, should the club approach him, is that of Stoke City defender Glen Johnson.

The Sun linked Pardew with a move for the capped England international in late December, who has fallen out of favour at Stoke City, having made a meagre four appearances for the Potters and not featured at all since October, with Geoff Cameron and youngster Tom Edwards preferred.

Johnson, a natural right-back who has also played on the left-side of defence in the past, is thought to favour a move away from relegation threatened Stoke, who recently parted company with under-fire manager Mark Hughes. The only potential spanner in the works of this transfer would be if Hughes’ successor sees fit to recall the full-back to the first-team picture at Bet365 Stadium.

Should Pardew have the capacity to invest in the full-back position this month, he may be tempted to turn to the Championship for more youthful options and build for the future at the Hawthorns.

An audacious approach would be to go knocking on the door of local rivals and league leaders Wolves in pursuit of their flying right-back Conor Coady, or alternatively Pardew could go on the hunt in South Yorkshire, with Barnsley right-back Andy Yiadom also an option.

£2.5 million rated Yiadom, formerly of League Two club Barnet, has gone from strength to strength since his move to Oakwell, and the Daily Mirror claimed back in November via the Birmingham Mail that the Baggies were closely monitoring the defender during Tony Pulis’ reign, with the club’s technical director Nicky Hammond attending the Tykes’ 4-2 home victory over Burton Albion in the Championship.

If Yiadom should not arrive this window, it is not inconceivable that Pardew should make a move for him in the summer at the expiration of his contract. Yiadom has already turned down a new deal with Barnsley and saw a move to Huddersfield fall through during the summer transfer window of 2017.

As for Coady, a move across the Black Country is the more unlikely of Pardew’s possible options, although The Sun did report that the Baggies and Newcastle United were monitoring the Wolves full-back following Nuno Espirito Santo’s Carabao Cup exit at Manchester City on penalties.

The former Liverpool and Sheffield United man has recently signed a new contract at Wolves and is valued at around £7 million.

Should Pardew bear the brunt of FFP in his bid to bolster his defence, however, a shrewd and quite frankly economical move he could look to make is for former Arsenal and Manchester City right-back Bacary Sagna, who has been a free-agent since his release from the Etihad in the summer.

The 34-year-old France international has made well over 25o Premier League appearances and comes with a wealth of experience from his time with the Gunners and the Citizens, and he featured in each of France’s Euro 2016 matches as they reached the final on home soil before bowing to Portugal.

Sagna has been keeping himself fit during the first-half of the season and so it shouldn’t take a great deal of time to build-up match fitness. Premier League rivals West Ham have already reaped the benefits of bringing one released right-back in from City in the form of Pablo Zabaleta, and the experience of Sagna may have an equally positive effect as the Baggies attempt to stave off relegation themselves.

The scale of Pardew’s recruitment and indeed whether he has the capacity to invest heavily in reinforcements this January remains to be seen with Financial Fair Play still a potential stumbling block, but with options in abundance to pursue this transfer window in any case, he has every chance of giving the Baggies a fighting chance to remain in the Premier League.

23 year old from Stoke-on-Trent. Avid Port Vale fan. Also follow Derby County & OGC Nice closely. BA Hons Modern Languages Graduate (University of Oxford). My prior experience in Sports Journalism comes from Volleyball & Floorball, having worked on major tournaments with the CEV, FIVB, & IFF. Have been contributing pieces to The Boot Room since 2016. Views are my own.

West Bromwich Albion

Grzegorz Krychowiak’s World Cup display all too familiar for West Brom fans

The Polish midfielder had an indifferent spell at West Brom.

Mathew Nash

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West Brom fans were rightly excited by the acquisition of Grzegorz Krychowiak last summer. Tony Pulis managed to bring in the Polish midfielder on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, just one year after Europe’s best had scrambled to sign him from Sevilla.

The deal had no buy-out clause but West Brom fans were hopeful he could help the Baggies push on into the elite and then join them permanently a year down the line.

That is not how the story panned out. Instead, West Brom were relegated to the Championship after a horrible season both on and off the pitch. Krychowiak certainly played his part.

Krychowiak’s season at West Brom could easily have been summed up in his display against Senegal in the World cup yesterday.

(Photo credit should read LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images)

The midfielder showed his undoubted ability and class when he powered home a header to give his nation a fighting chance. However, in the 80-odd minutes beforehand, he was poor.

Languid and sluggish he was off the pace with Senegal’s energetic midfield running him ragged. He then played a dreadful half-volley back-pass to no-mans land which Mbaye Niang ran on to and slotted home into an empty net.

It was indicative of his West Brom spell. Occasional flashes of the man who cost PSG around £28 million just two years ago.

This summer, he will be on the move again but West Brom will not be calling. Whoever does get Krychowiak will hope they get to see his qualities on a more consistent basis than was visible at the Hawthorns.

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West Bromwich Albion

West Brom will hope Nacer Chadli continues to play World Cup role

The Belgian winger has a £17m release clause in his contract at West Brom.

Mathew Nash

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Belgium got off to winning ways in the World Cup yesterday, comfortably beating Panama 3-0 without ever truly getting out of first gear.

The Red Devils dominated for much of the game, with star players Kevin De Bruyne, Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku doing the damage.

With the likes of Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Axel Witsel and Thibaut Courtois defending their interests at the other end a win never looked in doubt for Robert Martinez’s men.

But amid all the undoubted stars on show for Belgium, one man who came on in the game did cause something of a stir on social media.

(Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

In the 90th minute West Brom attacker Nacer Chadli made it onto the field, replacing Witsel.

His appearance certainly caused a reaction from West Brom fans, who had forgotten he existed. The £13 million Baggies winger has failed to have a lasting impact at the Hawthorns since joining from Tottenham in 2016.

After an average first season at the club he barely featured last term. Chadli, suffering with a serious hip injury, played just five times for West Brom last term as the club were relegated from the Premier League.

West Brom will however be very happy to see he is back in action. The 28-year-old will not want to play in the Championship next season but finding a buyer was looking difficult. Chadli has a release clause of £17 million, so any interested party will want to believe they are getting value for money.

If Chadli can continue to play a role for Belgium in what should be a long World Cup campaign, West Brom’s chances of finding a buyer for the player will undoubtedly increase.

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West Bromwich Albion

Should West Brom have given Ali Gabr a chance at £1.1 million?

West Brom did not hand the 29-year-old a chance during his recent loan spell.

Mathew Nash

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When Egypt took on Uruguay in the World Cup recently it was a game West Brom fans watched with interest.

The player they were keeping eyes on was Egypt centre-back Ahmed Hegazi. He is of course still a Baggies player, although has been linked with an exit after the club’s relegation.

However, alongside him in the heart of the Egypt defence was another player who should interest the club, Ali Gabr.

The 29-year-old was signed on loan in January to add strength to the West Brom defence. However, with the Baggies struggling to survive he was not given a chance in the first-team.

Gabr instead played just two games for the club’s under-23s. His first appearance was in a 2-0 defeat against Norwich City before he was given the runaround by Swedish striker Viktor Gyorkes in a 5-1 loss against Brighton.

West Brom will not be keeping him, based on his performances at the club.

The Express and Star reported this month that a £1.1 million option to sign him permanently had passed and he would be returning to Egypt.

But his performance against Uruguay suggested he deserved better. Gabr looked strong and solid defensively and was also impressive with the ball at his feet.

It certainly looked like the form of a player who could be effective in the Championship, especially with Jonny Evans leaving and Craig Dawson and Hegazi wanted.

West Brom cannot be blamed for deciding not to throw Gabr in last season and, it is hard to suggest he might have helped them stay in the Premier League. But based on his performance against Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez last week he might have been able to help them return.

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