What would Watford's Odion Ighalo bring to West Bromwich Albion?
West Bromwich Albion boss Tony Pulis is still no closer to solving the goal crisis at the Hawthorns. Seeing his team score a mere 34 goals in their 38 Premier League games last season, a lack of firepower has so often been the Albion’s undoing and an area of their game that the Welsh manager has been desperate to solve.
Pulis has already had to contend with the blow of Diafra Sakho’s move from West Ham United falling through due to medical issues, and with want-away forward Saido Berahino still no closer to agreeing a move elsewhere with the season dangerously close, it may be as it were towards the end of last campaign for West Brom and their crop of misfiring forwards.
Although, Pulis has identified a potential solution. After the disappointment of Sakho, the Welshman according to Sky Sports News has moved to another target and is now interested in bringing in Watford’s Nigerian forward Odion Ighalo as an alternative to bring goals back into his side.
A new striker is desperately needed at the Hawthorns before they can sanction any move away for Saido Berahino, and with fresh investment from the Shanghai Sports Group, investment to bring in a goalscorer is expected, and indeed urgently needed with the 2016/17 Premier League campaign kicking off this weekend.
The Nigerian has been a big hit at Watford since arriving from Udinese, another club owned by the Pozzo family who control the Hertfordshire club. The 27-year old hit 18 goals in the Championship as Watford won promotion to the Premier League, and proved his top flight credentials last season, notching 17 goals in 42 appearances in all competitions.
A hitman who can get near twenty goals a season is something that has been lacking at the Albion for some time. Ighalo after two seasons is proven in the top two tiers of English football and is a player capable of scoring goals for the Baggies in the Premier League. He has recently staked his claim on the international stage also, with three goals for Nigeria since 2015, and the indications are there that the forward may just be a late bloomer in the same vein as former Inter Milan forward Diego Milito or Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, who led their respective clubs to major titles. With a club of Albion’s history and ambition, a player with similar promise and experience to lead the line may just be important if the glory days are to return to the Black Country club.
They are certainly capable of bettering their 14th-place finish in the 2015/16 instalment of the Premier League, and with Pulis having been a nearly man at Wembley twice in his career with Gillingham in the playoffs in 1999 and Stoke City in the FA Cup final in 2011, he will be desperate to not only get his Albion team up the table, but to get another trophy in the cabinet and look forward to gracing Europe again. To have any hope of that he needs a potent goal threat to make his defensive philosophy a match-winning one, and Ighalo is certainly capable of that.
Ighalo has thrived however from having a strike partner in Troy Deeney at Watford. Although Albion’s other forwards Salomon Rondon and Rickie Lambert have shown their goalscoring credentials elsewhere, they haven’t really hit the ground running at West Brom. The dynamic Ighalo besides scoring goals will also benefit the other forwards with his link-up play and playing off his teammates in attack, and his movement in pulling players out of position may make him an ideal man to get West Brom’s hapless forwards hitting the target once more.
With a promising young forward in Jonathan Leko coming through the ranks at the Hawthorns also, Ighalo given his age can benefit a young, hungry player with his experience and not only give him inspiration and guidance regarding his finishing, but his movement and the timing of his runs to maximise the damage his raw talent can do to opponents. Albion could do with another home-grown talent like Leko to come through their system as Berahino did, and Ighalo’s influence may well do good for his development.
— The Boot Room (@tbrfootball) August 9, 2016
Given his positive impact for Watford and a great debut season in the Premier League, the Hornets will of course be keen to hang onto their man thanks to the goals he provides and his chemistry up front with fellow marksman Troy Deeney. Therefore Albion will be in for a real battle if they want to bring him in, but he has all the ingredients to be a top player for West Brom, and it is simply a case of whether or not the Albion can land him. With their investment, it is unlikely they’ll be priced out, but it will come down to how far in Watford are prepared to dig their heels to retain their man.
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