This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
West Bromwich Albion are back in action this weekend following the international break as they are faced with the tough task of Sheffield Wednesday without either Romaine Sawyers or Jake Livermore.
Although their worries extend much further than just a mere one-match ban for two influential members of the squad as their performances this season have led to transfer interest in their players with January soon on the horizon.
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Which clearly would be a much more significant dent to their promotion hopes than a short-term absence.
This week, the Mirror has reported that Manchester United are keeping tabs on loan star Matheus Pereira, who Albion can sign permanently in the winter window.
The Baggies could clinch the 23-year-old for £8.25m, taking the total paid for him up to £9m, and given United’s financial firepower, they could make that back and lots more if they were to sell him on instantly.
However, that’s a move sporting and technical director Luke Dowling and the other decision-makers at the club must avoid no matter how big the fee is.
Pereira has proven to be one of the most significant members of this lethal West Brom attack.
At the start of the season, manager Slaven Bilic lacked a bit of creativity in the number ten role until he gave the Brazilian an opportunity to impress, and ever since then, he’s been the first choice.
Per WhoScored, Pereira has netted three goals and provided six assists, meaning he has contributed to nearly a third of all their goals in the league, while he also ranks as their best player at an average rating of 7.30 per game.
The Sporting Lisbon man was once likened to Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah while playing in the Bundesliga for FC Nurnberg due to the similar characteristics he displays – ‘strong in possession, full of pace, a fine dribbler and the orchestrator of intricate interplay and one-twos that split opposition.’
The Croatian could call upon Filip Krovinovic or Chris Willock in his absence as there’s plenty of strength in depth in the attacking positions, but given he replaced the former in the starting line up and the latter is yet to be handed a first-team opportunity, it would be a considerable risk.
Currently, the Baggies are well on course to achieve automatic promotion based on the rate at which they have started this Championship campaign. On points alone, they should surpass 92, which has been enough in four of the last five seasons.
Pereira is imperative to that happening. He is simply indispensable regardless of how much money they could make in profits.