West Bromwich Albion released promising 21-year-old forward Cheikh Diaby in the summer because of concerns surrounding his fitness, according to The Athletic’s Steve Madeley.
The young Frenchman was tipped to be one for the future at The Hawthorns and may have even been involved in the first team next season after scoring an impressive six goals in 12 Premier League 2 games for the club’s Under-23s team last term, also making one appearance in the EFL Trophy.
Diaby even made the bench for the first-team’s home game against Arsenal back in January during the 2020/21 campaign, but was unable to make it on the pitch as the Baggies were hammered 4-0 by a ruthless Mikel Arteta side that night.
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With the club now back in the second tier and a couple of strikers needed after the departures of Mbaye Diagne, Hal Robson-Kanu and Charlie Austin in the summer, this would have been the perfect opportunity for the 21-year-old to make his mark under new boss Valerien Ismael in pre-season.
But he was released along with the latter two at the end of May and he will now be on the search for a new club to showcase his ability.
Speaking about the 21-year-old and his departure, The Athletic journalist Madeley said: “The club had high hopes for his talent and for a while, it looked like he might be pushing towards the first team.
“But he then went backwards and I think there were some concerns about his overall fitness, which contributed to him being released.”
The forward is yet to sign for another side but with the promise he showed in West Brom’s youth system last year, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him snapped up soon.
Although West Brom would have seen him play for many hours and will have a better grasp of this situation than anyone else, it does seem like a missed opportunity for a side who will want to invest in a couple of strikers over the next month or two.
As one of their own, he would have been backed by Baggies fans and been given the patience required to grow and flourish in the Championship.
He may not have started for them next season, especially with the West Midlands outfit desperate to get back to the Premier League, but he would have been a young, exciting and energetic figure to have around The Hawthorns and a man who could have come on and terrified second-tier defences.