Player Zone: Oliver Burke has a chance to be central to West Brom’s rebuild

Over the past year Jadon Sancho has become a trailblazer for young British footballers everywhere.

Suddenly we’ve started to see a number of players move out to Germany after the former Manchester City man proved there was a pathway to the top outside of English football.

But a year before his transfer to Dortmund, a certain Scotsman had also made the move to German shores, intriguingly switching Nottingham Forest for RB Leipzig.

The man in question is, of course, Oliver Burke, a player who has somehow racked up £28m in transfer fees after arriving in the Bundesliga and then the Premier League.

Football is a funny game, it’s a bizarre business too. In 2016, four goals in five games at the start of the season was apparently enough to see you get a £13m move from the Championship to Germany’s top tier.

It was a move that caught the eye, but after scoring just once in 25 matches for the German side, Burke found himself back in England.

This time it was a £15m transfer as Tony Pulis brought the Scottish international to the Hawthorns.

How he’s been able to command those types of fees must be dictated by his age. Now into his 20s, Burke still has promise, yet his performances over the last few years have been particularly poor.

As a teenager at Forest he was one of the best up and coming talents in the second tier. Now, however, his stock has decreased significantly.

His loan move to Celtic saw him score four times in 11 SPFL matches. Under the stewardship of Brendan Rodgers he looked a changed man. But after the Northern Irishman left for Leicester, his performances went downhill.

On that evidence, perhaps Rodgers is the man Albion need as their new manager? It’s beyond the realms of possibility but it proves how a progressive coach can improve Burke.

In the final months of the season he was particularly poor in Scotland, as his season ended rather typically with an injury. He was then completely outshone last month when 16-year-old Karamoko Dembele replaced him at half-time against Hearts.

If that doesn’t sum up his career so far nothing will.

West Brom fans will be forgiven for thinking he shouldn’t be given another chance. In many ways it’s difficult to disagree.

Yet with a monumental rebuild on the club’s hands ahead of next season, Burke can be key, especially after a permanent move to the Hoops was put in doubt.

If there was ever a chance to give him a second opportunity in the Midlands, now is the time.

The Scotsman earns £30,000 a week at the Baggies which puts him among the highest earners at the club. Does he deserve to be? Arguably not.

With as many as five players possibly leaving, it remains to be seen whether Burke will be among those to depart.

His performances for Celtic prove it’s unlikely he’d be able to turn his career around in such quick fashion, but if Albion hire a coach who can develop the younger players at the club, he has a future.

West Brom have a number of young talents coming through their ranks at the moment. One of the most impressive is Kyle Edwards. On paper, a wide area consisting of him and Burke is exciting, especially at Championship level.

There lies the solution to the club’s rebuild. They simply have to place their faith in those with potential, rather than players who are past their use by date.

By building that philosophy, the stage could be set for Burke’s transformation.

Since signing he’s started just twice and has failed to find the back of the net. It’s been a horrendous move but now is his opportunity to prove his worth.

After a number of moves to various clubs the winger needs to find a settled place to play his football. At Celtic there were a few glimpses of the maturing player he can become and, if he can provide even an inch of that going into next season, West Brom could be onto something.

As well as playing on the wing, he could also be utilised as a number nine, a role he played in for Celtic.

With Dwight Gayle not returning and Jay Rodriguez looking as though he could leave, that aspect of his game can be particularly useful.

Watch fans explain why the Football League is better than the Premier League in the video below…

Burke has never been a £15m player, but that’s the state of transfer fees in what seems to be an ever inflated market.

£5m of that transfer fee is still owed to Leipzig. Considering West Brom are trying to cut back this summer, it’s a far from ideal situation.

However, if both player and club can forget about the sheer amount of money that was involved in his move, he may finally start to flourish.

After being called up to Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad, it really feels like a turning point for the wide man.

It’s now up to West Brom to take full advantage of it.