This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Rekeem Harper’s future with West Brom seemed to be in doubt for a while.
After it was revealed he’d been offered a new deal in the club’s retained list, it took until beyond the 1st July, when players out of contract usually become a free agent, to finally put pen to paper.
The news will likely have come as a welcome relief to the club who are clearly keen to tie down their best young stars.
Unfortunately for Albion, the same couldn’t be said for Louie Barry who rejected a new deal, but Harper’s contract and the addition of Filip Krovinovic on loan could signal a key change that’s already happening under new manager Slaven Bilic.
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West Brom’s midfield last season was incredibly one dimensional, boasting players like Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Chris Brunt.
It was an area of the pitch that lacked much energy with all three players, barring Livermore now ageing individuals. Barry, at the age of 38, has now left the club, but the two latter names are still embedded within the squad.
Brunt has the ability to pick a pass, claiming six assists last term but beyond that, is nothing more than a steady player.
However, Harper’s new contract and the arrival on a temporary basis of Krovinovic is signalling a key switch.
All of a sudden there is a far more energetic and refreshing feel to the midfield, one which could arguably help drive the club forward in a new era.
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It’s likely that Albion’s new Croatian will play as a number ten whilst their academy graduate could play behind him as a box-to-box midfielder.
As a result, the middle of the park could look far more vibrant for West Brom going into the 2019/20 campaign, particularly if Sam Field is also trusted.
Krovinovic is only 23 whilst Harper is still a teenager, meaning the wheels have already been put in motion for a changing of the guard from the older heads that dominated their failed promotion campaign.
Since Bilic has arrived, there has already been significant losses in regards to the playing staff but those of the experienced members that still remain are unlikely to influence things too much in the future.
Under the ex-Hammers man, a youthful approach looks to be coming to the forefront, and after giving a season to those who came down with the team from the Premier League, it’s now evident that a new form of approach is being taken.