Former West Bromwich Albion forward Kevin Phillips believes Derby County’s Tom Lawrence would be a great signing for his old club, providing they can recruit the 27-year-old on a free transfer as he spoke to West Brom News.
These comments come after a Daily Mail report, stating the Rams are ‘reluctantly willing’ to let go of the Welshman for nothing in January due to their current financial situation, was published.
This willingness to part company with their captain is due to the winger’s reported £37,000 per week, a figure that is unlikely to be sustainable for the East Midlands outfit for too much longer considering the fact they are still in administration.
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However, administrator Carl Jackson has put the prospect of player sales to the back of his mind at this stage, with his first priority to find the most suitable buyer for the club in the next two or three weeks.
Added to that, manager Wayne Rooney is adamant his skipper will remain at Pride Park until the end of the 2021/22 campaign, perhaps surprising considering the fact he’s out of contract in the season but not exactly a shock considering the lack of squad depth the Rams currently have.
He has also been a key man both on and off the pitch for Derby this season, leading his teammates through this difficult spell in the club’s history and on the pitch, popping up with two vital second-half goals to secure a 3-2 victory over promotion favourites AFC Bournemouth at the weekend.
The Cherries, along with Stoke City, Swansea and West Brom, are all thought to be interested in his signature – and ex-Baggie Phillips believes he could be a shrewd addition for Valerien Ismael’s side, having worked with him at Pride Park during his time as assistant manager.
But he has warned officials at The Hawthorns against spending a fee on him, saying: “If they get him for free, yeah [sign him], I’d be very sceptical if they had to pay a fee.
“Tom, I worked with him, he’s a very up and down player. When he’s up, he’s very good. I think he’s probably been a player that has lacked a bit of consistency in his career.
“But if they can get him for free – the wages are not going to be astronomical – he’s a player that, on his day, could hurt anyone.#
“Come January, when West Brom are hopefully in and around it, it gives them a boost. He’s got experience, he’s been around a while now, so he could help in the dressing room.
“On a free transfer? Definitely. Unfortunately, I’d imagine there will be a lot of competition for his services.
“But the good thing about West Brom is it’s the Midlands and with Derby not being too far away, they might just hold the upper hand there. [It would be] a good bit of business if they can get him for free.”
On a free transfer, bringing in Lawrence as an additional option to maximise competition and performance levels could be a good bit of business for a side that need more going forward.
However, as Phillips has alluded to, his consistency over the years can be questioned and it’s the one thing that has prevented him from transforming into a Premier League player, because he certainly has the technical ability to ply his trade there.
What Albion from new additions need more than anything else during the January transfer window is reliability. The Welshman may be a good leader and a great role model off the pitch, but many people will be sceptical about whether he can produce the goods on it and on a regular basis.
It’s also clear the Baggies need a centre-forward more than a winger at this stage, because they were poor in front of goal last night despite creating several chances and this has already been costly in their fight for automatic promotion as the top two start to pull away.
The 27-year-old may have played as a central striker before, but he doesn’t score enough goals to play there and would be better suited as a winger. This is why this potential signing might be worth giving a miss.