With West Brom captain Jonny Evans likely to leave the club for Leicester City, Darren Moore faces a major hole in his backline and a vacuum of leadership.
If the Baggies are to live up to their “boing-boing” reputation, they will need a capable replacement. Fortunately, James Collins is available.
The 34-year old defender has been released from West Ham after six years at the club. It comes as he made just 13 appearances in an injury ravaged season. Consequently there will be doubts over his fitness and longevity. Any club that signs him should do so as a squad player and on a season by season basis.
However, there are no doubts over Collins’ leadership ability. Having previously captained Wales, he was still trusted with the captain’s armband against Bournemouth last December. It comes as second nature to a player who has made 279 Premier League appearances and won 50 international caps.
Likewise, his skill is not in doubt. He managed to make 9.1 clearances per game, 3.0 more than any other West Ham player last season. Combined with his strength in the air (3.6 aerial duels won per game), it is clear that most backlines would find themselves strengthened by his presence.
Collins alone will not solve the leadership vacuum and defensive hole left by Evans. However, he would help patch the gap. Securing such a player on a free transfer would be a shrewd piece of business and leave funds available for more major transfers.