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…
To say West Brom fans are disillusioned with the club’s academy at the moment would be a considerable understatement.
It’s a bewildering time as far as their academy is concerned and after Rekeem Harper signed a new deal, things have only gone downhill again.
Harper had a contract offer on the table for a lengthy period of time and after July 1 passed by, it looked as though he would be another out the door.
This is a club who have become accustomed to seeing their best prodigies depart. In the past, Izzy Brown fled the scene as he moved to Chelsea, whilst Tyler Roberts and Kemar Roofe also left.
Yet, Harper, rather surprisingly decided to stay at Albion.
And what’s also surprising, is the example he’s now set.
When manager Slaven Bilic was questioned about the 19-year-old’s new terms, he told the club’s website: “It was a no-brainer for a player who is looking to have a good path, a good opportunity and platform long-term in his career.
“He knows the club, he knows the area. Last year he played a reasonable amount, a lot maybe for his first season. It was not hard for me to persuade him.”
However, with the younger players at Albion in the past, it appears as though it has been difficult to convince them.
And in doing so, he has set what is an unlikely example. For once, the Baggies have a young player thinking about the good of their career, rather than seeking a glamorous move.
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He is one of the few players who has made good use of his breakthrough into the first team.
Of all academy graduates last season, he experienced the most minutes under Darren Moore. He played 1,131 minutes over 16 Championship outings, as well as playing six times in cup competitions.
His decision to sign a new deal at West Brom is a positive sign, but others must follow suit if the academy is to truly be considered a success in the future.