This article is part of Football FanCast’s Transfer Focus series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent transfer news…
According to the Express & Star, West Bromwich Albion are considering a move to make Chris Willock’s loan deal permanent in January, and the situations surrounding two of their current regulars could convince the club to pay up.
It is believed that the Baggies have an option to make the transfer permanent for a ‘reasonable fee’, and those in charge will continue to monitor his progress in the coming months before making a decision.
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Willock has been restricted to U23 football since joining on deadline day from Benfica – he has scored three and assisted four in seven Premier League 2 matches, per Transfermarkt.
The form of Grady Diangana, Matty Phillips, and Matheus Pereira has been a key cause of his lack of first-team opportunities as between them, they have contributed to 82% of Albion’s Championship goals this season.
With such impressive form comes the risk that a team from the upper echelons of football will take a keen interest, and that’s already been seen with multiple players this season.
Grady Diangana’s future will continually be in doubt until January passes – Manuel Pellegrini may have said he will stay at the Hawthorns but a combination of Manuel Lanzini’s injury and Claude Puel’s comments on Harvey Barnes last season should be enough to leave you with a sense of uncertainty.
Matheus Pereira, meanwhile, has been attracting interest from a Premier League heavyweight in Manchester United. The Baggies have the option to sign him permanently as well, but the Red Devils’ interest certainly complicates matters and creates the perception that his stay at the Hawthorns, whether fully transferred or not, will end up being a short one.
If the club are to lose one of the two players – or even worse, both – in January, then they may well be convinced into making a firm decision on Willock.
Either departure would open the door for his opportunity amongst Bilic’s first-team fold and his role would, therefore, be much greater, making paying a fee for him in the winter window all that more justifiable.
Albion also won’t want to run the risk of similar scenarios occurring later down the line, so securing the former Arsenal graduate could well be in the best interests of long-term planning.
Given that the club already value him as a player with ‘real potential’, there’s a very good chance they’ll do it anyway.