West Bromwich Albion boss Valerien Ismael has admitted there will be a focus on outgoings before any more signings arrive at The Hawthorns during this transfer window, speaking candidly to the Express and Star.
This news may come as no surprise to some Albion fans, with the club forking out a reported £7m fee to lure Daryl Dike from Orlando City on a permanent deal earlier this month as they look to rectify their inability to be clinical in front of goal.
That move followed a conservative spending policy during the summer, when the Baggies’ hierarchy didn’t spend a single penny on permanent deals despite the high-profile departure of former key man Matheus Pereira who linked up with Al-Hilal.
Quiz: Can you name which club West Brom signed these 28 midfielders from?
Numerous West Brom players have been linked with an exit in recent months, with Kenneth Zohore and Robert Snodgrass both reportedly being deemed surplus to requirements in the Midlands, despite the latter only joining the club last January.
Sam Johnstone may also be heading for the exit door between now and the end of the month after generating widespread interest from the Premier League, although the 28-year-old may wait until the summer to make his Hawthorns departure as his contract comes to an end at the end of the campaign.
Although Ismael didn’t name specific players that could be heading for the exit door, he has revealed to the Express and Star that their efforts will now be focused on shifting players out of the club.
Speaking on this subject, the Frenchman said: “Now it’s clear – we did our job. We got our number one target (Dike) in the early days of the transfer window. But it’s clear we need outgoings.
“We don’t need too many players – we need happy players who are dedicated, committed to West Brom and it’s important to create that environment with a smaller squad. At the minute we need outgoings, then we go from there.”
Outgoings do need to happen and this is just part and parcel of staying within the EFL’s financial rules, so it’s good to see that the promotion chasers want to balance the books despite gunning for a return to the top tier.
However, it does feel as though they need to recruit in two or three more areas if they want to have a real chance of winning a top-two spot and avoid the lottery of the play-offs, and this arguably needs to happen regardless of whether they can sell on some of their fringe players this month.
Even without Snodgrass’ departure, they could potentially benefit from another central midfielder to provide depth and competition for the likes of Jake Livermore and Alex Mowatt. Their lack of midfield options were exposed last month when Taylor Gardner-Hickman was forced to step in against Coventry.
One more centre-back may also be useful even with Dara O’Shea closing in on a return, with Kean Bryan out for the rest of the campaign. Bryan looks set to return for the next season, so a loan deal would probably suffice.
The key problem will be moving players in the other direction because the likes of Zohore and Snodgrass have only played a limited amount of football this season, so they haven’t exactly been able to put themselves in the shop window.