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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.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

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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English Premier League

Newcastle should forget Rondon and give Mitrovic another shot

Rafa Benitez is looking to secure a striker this summer, but should Newcastle put more faith in returning loanee?

Jamie Watts

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Newcastle United are reportedly in the market for new forwards this summer, with Rafa Benitez identifying the Magpies’ attacking output as a key weakness last term, despite their impressive 10th place finish.

The Spaniard is allegedly keen on Venezuela international Salomon Rondon and could offer him a route back into the Premier League, from the recently relegated West Brom, according to the Northern Echo.

However, the 28-year-old may not be the best option to spearhead the side at St James’ Park.

Rondon has failed to bag more than 10 goals in a domestic season since arriving from Zenit St Petersburg, while his 28 strikes in 120 games makes for pretty poor reading.

It goes without saying stats are not everything, but Newcastle will need a reliable scorer to ensure safety, and perhaps he is not worth the risk.

Photo: Getty Images

Strangely, Benitez seems reluctant to recall former fan favourite Aleksandar Mitrovic despite his recent resurgence, and is pursuing other targets that employ a similar game to the Serbian.

On loan in the Championship last term Mitrovic regained his confidence and eye for goal, and he was pivotal in Fulham’s  push for promotion, netting an impressive 12 goals in 11 games for the Cottagers in a period he described as “the best four months of my career”.

The former Anderlecht man seems to have curbed his disciplinary issues and simplified his game up top, with his link-up play representing some of the finest in world football last term. And the time could be perfect for his return to Tyneside.

Photo: Getty Images

It is evident from rumours surrounding Rondon and Sporting Lisbon talisman Bas Dost (Marca), that Benitez is actively seeking a physical linchpin to orchestrate play in the final third and Mitrovic could be his best option.

Newcastle are not famed for their spending in transfer markets and they have a ready-made solution returning to the club imminently.

Benitez should reevaluate his current pursuits and give Mitrovic one last chance. On last season’s evidence, the results could be brilliant.

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