Orlando City winger Nani believes there’s still unfinished business for 21-year-old forward Daryl Dike with the MLS side amid interest from Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion, with the former Manchester United man speaking to Goal.
The United States international managed to get his first taste of English football in the second half of last season at Barnsley, plying his trade under Valerien Ismael at Oakwell and nearly leading the Tykes to Premier League promotion.
Despite scoring nine times in 19 Championship appearances, Barnsley lost out to Swansea City in the play-off semi-finals and with that, they were unable to take up the £18m option in his loan agreement to bring him to South Yorkshire permanently.
Quiz: Have West Brom won or lost more against each of these 25 English teams?
However, he could potentially be set to move to the Premier League regardless, with Leeds United reported to be weighing up a move for the striker ahead of next Tuesday’s deadline.
The 21-year-old’s former boss Ismael was also interested in a reunion as one of several targets on new club West Brom’s shortlist along with Liam Delap – but Norwich City’s Jordan Hugill arrived at The Hawthorns yesterday on a season-long loan – potentially ending any hope of Dike arriving in the West Midlands this month.
Dike’s teammate and captain Nani has taken a defiant stance on the US international’s future and in an interview with Goal, the 34-year-old said: “Last year he had the opportunity to move to England and play in the Championship which gave him a different experience in his career.
“He could build up his game a little bit more and improve his strength and his qualities and managed to score a couple of goals.
“He’s a young player. He has a lot of things he can still improve but he’s a player who can fly very high. He’s just got to keep his feet on the ground and continue to work hard and have a good mentality.”
“He has all the qualities. He just needs to improve a couple of things that will make him have more interest.
“We know he can score goals but he’s still young. Let’s see what happens in the next year.
“He’s still our player, he still has work to do with us, and he still needs to continue to show he’s a great player.”
Is this a desperate attempt to keep one of their best players amid interest from elsewhere? Potentially words to keep Dike’s feet on the ground after a brilliant spell with Barnsley? Or is there still work for the 21-year-old to do in his home nation before he flourishes elsewhere?
You couldn’t blame Nani for any three of the possible reasons for those quotes, because his teammate is a special talent and one that could be a real threat in the Championship once again if a second-tier team came in for him.
It would be interesting to see whether he could maintain a similar goalscoring record and contribute as effectively in the Premier League if he was to secure a move to the top flight in the next year or two, but he seems like no one-season wonder.
He has already scored twice in four MLS games this season following on from his loan spell at Barnsley – but it seems like the chances of him reuniting with old manager Valerien Ismael are slipping away after the signing of Hugill.
This could leave Leeds United in pole position to recruit him – but they may see Huddersfield Town midfielder Lewis O’Brien as their priority after putting him at the top of their transfer agenda.
You certainly couldn’t rule out a move to West Brom for Dike next summer though if they are promoted and he can maintain his goalscoring form out in the United States.