It is well known and publicized amongst Albion supporters such as myself that Chairman Jeremy Peace does not like to get out his chequebook and put his money where his mouth is. Whilst it would be unfair to call him “tight arsed” (for want of a better phrase) especially after shelling out an unprecedented £12million on deadline day, it is certainly not so to call him more than orthodox with his spending. So I begin by acknowledging that in this January transfer window at least, transfers are simply not going to happen.
However, most Albion fans will agree that there are worrying signs present that the current crop of players are in need of an overhaul of some description, and the upcoming summer transfer window is perhaps the most vital in Jeremy Peace’s time at the club. The defence has quality but is ageing, and the club is in desperate need of a new left back. There is a multitude of creative midfielders, most of whom are not performing. The club has too many average strikers (Anelka, Rosenberg and Anichebe I am looking at you) most of whom should leave, and Albion are also relying on four loan players this season. Combine this with the likely departures of key players such as Shane Long and Youssouf Mulumbu, you have a situation where the squad (as bulky as it is now) is starting to look thin in the summer.
As it stands now, the team is under performing as a whole, and whilst the answer may not (and probably will not) be to turn to new men coming in, aside of course from new manager Pepe Mel, it is always fun to speculate as to who may improve the plight of the team. So in light of the necessary squad overhaul, and the arrival of the new manager, I have compiled a list of eight players that the Albion could realistically, and perhaps should sign (either this January or in the summer).
1) Morgan Amalfitano/Matej Vydra (Marseille/Udinese)
In a way this is sort of cheating, but of the four loan signings we have made, French winger Morgan Amalfitano and young Czech striker Matej Vydra are the two players we should make permanent fixtures (sorry Scott Sinclair and Goran Popov). Amalfitano has been excellent so far this term, having endured somewhat of a blip in October and November. His skills, direct style and crossing ability have been a great hit with the Albion faithful, alongside his gaulish shrugging. Vydra is in my opinion a player with the potential to become a top quality striker. Unfairly left out of the side and not given enough of a chance, Vydra has shown his nippy style and predatory instincts can be a danger to any side when he has been playing.
2) Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea)
Having had a spell in the first team, Bertrand now seems to be isolated on the fringes of Chelsea’s squad. Nevertheless Bertrand is a Champions League winning, experience full back, who plays with grit and pace. If he is willing to step down and leave the club he has been at as a youth player, Albion could get a Premier League quality player on the cheap who would provide very good competition for Billy Jones.
3) Aaron Cresswell (Ipswich Town)
A player that we have been consistently linked with over the past 12 months, Cresswell is one of the most promising left backs in the country- an area in which we are desperately lacking. Having climbed his way up the football league, starting at Tranmere before signing for Ipswich in 2011, Cresswell has clocked up over 100 appearances for the Tractor Boys, not missing a minute of league football in the 2012-13 season and winning Fans Player Of The Year 2012. Not bank busting, and very promising, this seems to be the logical solution to our left back nightmare.
4) Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn Rovers)
If I had the choice, this is who I would bring in. Rhodes possesses an indisputably impressive goal record in the football league (having scored 16 goals this season for Blackburn alone, and 139 in 255 appearances in his career) and his knack of scoring spectacular goals, his presence leading the front line and his energy make him perhaps the best striker the Football League has to offer. Now an established full international for Scotland, it is time a Premier League team took a gamble on Rhodes. He reminds me of a slightly more physical Kevin Phillips (and if that isn’t a good advertisement I don’t know what is). The only stumbling block would be the asking price- probably more than £10million. And the chances of Jeremy Peace couching that up? Slim.
5) Ola Toivonen (PSV)
Out of contract at the end of the season and yet to renew, this attacker has a decent record and European experience that could be vital to Albion, who will be potentially very short of strikers at the end of the season. Toivonen has a record of around a goal every 2 games in the Eredivise, usually playing just off the striker, which is an impressive record and at 27 he is in his peak. The only drawback? We all know what happened last time we signed an experienced, Swedish international striker…
6) Will Hughes (Derby County)
With passing ability, presence and playmaking skills just as striking as his bleach blonde hair, Will Hughes is probably the hottest prospect in the football league, and a shining star of the new generation of English footballers. At only 18 years of age, Hughes has racked up 62 appearances for Derby and six caps for the England Under-21s. In all truth, Hughes will probably end at one of the gaggle of elite clubs that are hankering after his signature, however this prodigal talent would have much to offer Albion, and would push Mulumbu, Yacob and Morrison for a place in the team. Furthermore, the average age of the squad is worryingly high, and the clubs academy has failed to pump out any major stars (yet- I’m looking at you Saido Berhaino). Bringing in Hughes would hopefully mean he could anchor the middle of the park for years to come. An unlikely shout, but stranger things have happened.
7) Craig Gardner (Sunderland)
To counter-act the unrealistic nature of the last one, perhaps a more conservative choice. It seems that we have been linked with him in every single transfer window for the past four years now, however the ex-Villa man is someone with plenty to offer. Able to play either at full-back or in central midfield, Gardner would provide excellent cover in the middle of the park and for Billy Jones at right back. Another bonus to signing Gardner would be his ability from set plays, providing an able alternative to Chris Brunt from dead ball situations.
8) Alvaro Vadillo (Real Betis)
A name that may be unknown to many Albion fans, Vadillo is a player who is making waves in La Liga in a struggling Betis side. Only 19 years old, Vadillo has already been linked with moves to Liverpool and Tottenham. Blessed with electric pace and clever ball skills, he could provide the impetus and excitement down the wings that Albion have been lacking for years, in my opinion.
Do you agree? Do you want to see someone else at the Hawthorns? Let me know in the comments below!