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In summer recruit, West Brom may have finally found solution to January problem – opinion

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For a large part of last season, West Bromwich Albion looked set to return to the top-flight at the first time of asking.

Under Darren Moore, a stunning attacking unit had been created, with Dwight Gayle and Leicester City youngster Harvey Barnes arriving on loan to join Jay Rodriguez and Matt Phillips in creating and scoring the Baggies’ goals.

And that is what they did. Relentlessly.

However, come January, whispers of a potential blow began to surface. The Foxes were looking to recall Barnes from his loan spell early.

So, he left the Hawthorns in the winter having bagged nine goals and eight assists and leaving nearly all of the 28 defences he had faced in an absolute daze.

It turned out to be an even bigger blow than expected. For the remainder of the season, the Baggies attack faltered. Goals were still scored but it lacked a spark and an energy which would eventually lead to their promotion hopes dying a death.

Jefferson Montero and Jacob Murphy both arrived on loan to try and plug the gap, but neither could quite manage.

The summer rolled around and further problems arose. It became apparent that Gayle would not be returning to the club and Jay Rodriguez was also sold.

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Kenneth Zohore and Charlie Austin were brought in as Slaven Bilic looked to piece together a new unit, but the challenge of replacing Barnes remained unsolved.

But, against Luton Town last weekend, another young loanee looked like he may just be up for the task.

Grady Diangana was signed on loan from West Ham United during the summer, having shown sparks of attacking class for his parent club.

But, much like Barnes, his parent club now wanted him to be playing regularly and West Brom were quick to snap-up the chance to help.

It now looks an inspired decision.

At a blustery Kenilworth Road on Saturday, Diangana started from the bench. But at half-time, and with his side trailing, Bilic turned to the youngster, hoping he could provide the spark.

And he duly obliged, scoring two goals to turn the result on its head and pick-up a precious three points.

But, perhaps more importantly than that, the travelling fans caught a glimpse of someone with all the ability to step into the long-vacated ‘Harvey Barnes role.’

Here they had a young player brave enough to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Diangana completed all four of his dribbles during his 44 minute cameo and scored with both of his shots.

His pass accuracy was just over 84%, outstanding for an attacking player, taking up a largely free role behind the strikers, winning 62% of his attacking duels as well.

It would be generous to West Brom to suggest that losing Barnes was the reason their previous season collapsed. But it certainly played it’s part.

Now, however, seven months after the January problem occurred, it looks like they may have found the man to fill his crucial role.

West Brom welcome Reading to the Hawthorns tonight and you can guarantee that the home faithful cannot wait to see the 21-year-old in action.


ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: In summer recruit, West Brom may have finally found solution to January problem – opinion

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