This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
West Bromwich Albion have officially announced the signing of Kean Bryan on a two-year deal, after previously identifying the 24-year-old as a defensive target in the summer.
The centre-back has been without a club since the beginning of July after failing to put pen to paper on a new deal at Sheffield United, something that came as a surprise to many with Phil Jagielka leaving the club in the summer and Jack O’Connell remaining out with an injury, something that would have provided Bryan with the opportunity to impress again.
He made 13 Premier League appearances last term in what was his breakthrough season at Bramall Lane, doing himself proud and even scored in a league victory at Old Trafford as he made the step up despite not being able to save the Blades from relegation.
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He was reportedly the subject of interest from recently-promoted Premier League side Watford, Fulham, Swansea City and Middlesbrough as well as the Baggies, although none were able to strike a deal for the 24-year-old.
This move from West Brom comes amid an injury crisis at centre-back, with Matt Clarke still out with a hamstring injury for at least the next few weeks and Dara O’Shea being helped off the pitch on international duty after suffering what looks to be a severe ankle injury.
Focusing more on the new signing in Bryan though, we asked three of our FLW writers what qualities he will bring to The Hawthorns after sealing his move.
This should be a rather useful signing for West Brom in terms of what Bryan is able to offer them.
In the immediate future, it looks as though Bryan will provide the Baggies with an option in terms of a left-footed defender, which it seems could be rather important in the wake of the absence of both Dara O’Shea and Matt Clarke due to injury.
Beyond that, it is worth noting that the 24-year-old is versatile enough to play in a variety of positions in defence, meaning he could also be someone who Valerien Ismael can turn to if other members of his backline are absent for one reason or another.
It is also worth noting that Bryan may feel as though he has something of a point to prove following his relegation from the Premier League with Sheffield United last season, and the slow progress he made in finding a club, so there ought to be plenty of commitment and quality to his game, as he aims to prove he is capable of playing at the top levels of English football.
Two key injuries to players that have been excellent thus far is a bit of a kick in the teeth for West Brom and have forced them into the free-agent market.
However, they have managed to recruit quality with the arrival of Kean Bryan, and he is a player that has not just joined to fill the gaps until Matt Clarke and Dara O’Shea have returned to full fitness, but instead, he is a player that can make an impact right away.
Bryan is still 24 years old and is a player that can grow with The Baggies. Promotion is the sole objective of this season, and should that come to fruition, then the defender has the ability to adapt to the rigours of the higher tier.
Possessing the physical attributes to succeed at The Hawthorns, Bryan is also a composed figure in possession, who can help start attacks from the defence.
The young centre-back is also versatile. He is also able to operate as a holding midfielder, whilst he has covered the left wing-back role, to good effect, with Sheffield United before.
Bryan never really set the world alight at Sheffield United.
In fact, most of his game time with the Blades came last season due to an injury crisis, featuring 13 times in the Premier League.
In those games, we saw Bryan start in the back-three, and he showed his ability to play out from the back and step into midfield.
He’s comfortable on the ball and is exactly the type of player Valerien Ismael likes to utilise in his defensive line – someone with composure and quality to build attacks from the back.
At 24, he offers plenty of potential and is a solid addition on a free.