Transfer Talk: West Brom's summer so far
With the transfer window in full swing, ESPNFC's West Brom blogger Matthew Evans discusses how Alan Irvine's side are shaping up ahead of the new season.
IN -- Craig Gardner (Sunderland, Free), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City, Free), Chris Baird (Burnley, Free), Sebastien Pocognoli (Hannover 96, 1.3 million pounds), Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kiev, 10 million pounds).
OUT -- Steven Reid (Burnley, Free), Liam Ridgewell (Portland Timbers, Free), Zoltan Gera (Ferencvaros, Free), Billy Jones (Sunderland, Free), Diego Lugano (Released), George Thorne (Derby, Undisclosed).
SUMMER TRANSFER WINDOW ASSESSMENTS
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Looking at previous transfer windows, West Brom's transfer budget doesn't look to be very high. Last summer 12 million euros was spent by the club on transfer fees, but the team have spent that on two players with a club-record for Brown Ideye a gamble at that price given the striker didn't travel to the World Cup with Nigeria. With only one player sale thus far, the budget has come from the release of five players and another five returning to their parent clubs after loan spells, and I would expect Alan Irvine won't be given much more to spend this year. If Craig Dawson leaves that money will be reinvested in the team though.
Rate your business so far
7/10. Albion have gone some way to solving their defensive shortcomings with the signings they've made so far. Chris Baird is a solid signing that provides cover in both full-back positions as well as centre-back if needed. Belgian international Sebastien Pocognoli arrives with a good reputation and should prove to be a decent addition at left-back, while he should certainly be an improvement on Liam Ridgewell and Goran Popov. Craig Gardner is a long-term target of the club who can again cover multiple positions. The really exciting signing at the back is Joleon Lescott, who is very much a marquee signing for a club like Albion. He still has a few good years left in him, is a very recent England international and Premier League winner.
Up front, the club has made a real statement with the signing of Ideye, but he is unproven in England and can therefore be seen as a bit of a gamble. The Baggies badly needed to strengthen up front, so that box is ticked and if another player arrives who can play out wide then they can be pleased with their summer business.
Who should be sold?
No-one should be sold. West Brom's squad isn't big enough to be looking at selling players at the moment. In releasing the likes of Steven Reid, Liam Ridgewell and Diego Lugano, Albion have got rid of the players who came in for the most criticism last season on the back of poor performances. Disappointingly, it looks like two of West Brom's younger players will go: Thorne has left for Derby while Dawson handed in a transfer request and could be moved on as well if the right offer comes in. You can't afford to keep players who don't want to be there, and West Brom know that first-hand after the Peter Odemwingie. With the addition of Lescott, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the summer when Jonas Olsson finally moved on from the club after countless summer transfer windows of speculation. If that was the case, I expect Dawson would then be kept.
Who should be signed?
In the right-back position, the two main targets seem to be Aston Villa's Alan Hutton and Liverpool youngster Andre Wisdom. The former would be a permanent deal compared to a loan move for England under-21 International Wisdom. West Brom remain keen on Australian left-back Jason Davidson despite already adding Pocognoli to the squad. Jack Rodwell has been mentioned as a possible loan addition, but any move for him would come at a later point in the transfer window and West Brom would also face a lot of competition for his signature. In attack, West Brom haven't really been linked with too many players. Emmanuel Riviere was one of the main targets but he joined Newcastle, while there have also been links to long-time target Victor Moses, as well as West Ham's Stewart Downing.
Problem solving: What do you need?
There were two equally important problem areas, out wide and up front before the arrival of Ideye. West Brom now have one wide midfielder, Chris Brunt, and three strikers: Ideye, Saido Berahino and Victor Anichebe. One player who could prove a useful addition in both areas would be Joel Campbell of Arsenal, who was mightily impressive for Costa Rica at the recent World Cup. Albion were linked with Campbell when Pepe Mel was still at the club, and a loan move isn't beyond the realm of possibility, particularly with the links technical director Terry Burton has with Arsenal, having joined Albion this summer from the Gunners. Campbell showed he was capable of leading the line by himself for Costa Rica, but his electric pace and skill would also make him a good addition as a wide player, he seems similar to Odemwingie with his ability to create something from nothing. There would be a whole host of clubs, from both the Premier League and foreign leagues, who would be interested in Campbell but he'd be an excellent signing if West Brom could pull it off.