This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
West Brom are well renowned for their academy, not just in the Midlands, but probably across the country and even in Europe.
Over the last decade, the club have produced many a young prospect, but it is more recently that it has started to benefit the senior setup.
Slaven Bilic’s Baggies side currently has Nathan Ferguson, Kyle Edwards, and Romaine Sawyers regularly featuring – no player has recorded less than ten appearances in the Championship this season.
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You can’t forget Rekeem Harper, Dara O’Shea, Sam Field or Jonathan Leko either, who are all somewhat on the fringes of the first-team fold.
Then there are the likes of Kemar Roofe, who is now at Anderlecht, Saido Berahino, Jerome Sinclair, and even Chris Wood, who have all come through Albion’s ranks over years gone by.
Players have come and gone, some haven’t represented the club, some have – but this summer, West Brom lost potentially their two brightest prospects in Louie Barry and Morgan Rogers.
The England U16 striker turned down a new contract at the Hawthorns to make the switch to La Liga giants Barcelona, with the Baggies receiving a measly £235k in compensation.
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While the club reluctantly sold Rogers to Premier League champions Manchester City for £4m, making him one of the most expensive players ever in his age bracket.
It was very nearly a case of deja vu in the space of just weeks as Harper had attracted interest from Liverpool and Juventus, but the hierarchy at Albion have only gone and clinched the man taking Barry’s hype amongst the youth set up in Jamie Soule, as he has signed a three-year contract extension.
The 18-year-old has netted 28 times across 58 appearances for both the U18s and U23s, so it was vitally important to keep him at the club as he could quite easily follow in the footsteps of Ferguson and Edwards this campaign.
It is also clear to see that Luke Dowling and co have learned from the loss of both Barry and Rogers. There was surely no chance of them letting another young prospect slip out of their grasp, especially after the sporting and technical director said this during the summer:
“We want to return to what West Brom have been good at – unearthing some gems that people might not know too much about.”