It is no secret that West Bromwich Albion have one hell of an academy set-up, it’s arguably among the best in English football outside of your usual suspects.
The Baggies spent £1.3m on new facilities back in 2013 to breed through the next generation of young hopefuls and even pledged £3m-per-year after they were awarded category one status – the highest ranking – in the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance plan, as per the Express & Star.
Although only a couple of promising starlets have made their way into the first-team set-up in recent seasons, namely Nathan Ferguson, who left for Crystal Palace this summer, Rekeem Harper and Dara O’Shea, who is now a regular under Slaven Bilic.
The next talent to breakthrough could well be Rayhaan Tulloch, a 19-year-old who was quite sought-after in recent transfer windows and in the past, has drawn comparisons to both Jadon Sancho and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
“He’s quick and the type of player that’s broken through a lot recently — like Jadon Sancho and Callum Hudson-Odoi. I’m not saying he’s at that level but he’s that type of player that could quickly change a game through an explosive movement, a quick dribble or a run in behind and that can have quite an impact on a game.”
ex-England U17 coach Steve Cooper
He signed a new four-year deal in the summer and trained with the first-team prior to the new Premier League, showing just how much faith the Croatian has in his ability.
In fact, Bilic has described the versatile frontman as an “exceptional talent” with “very quick feet, very good skill, a very good sense of the game” – no wonder he’s been compared to some mighty impressive wingers already.
Following in the footsteps of both Saido Berahino and Ferguson, Tulloch has gone from junior club Phoenix United to making a debut for his hometown club, West Brom.
The teenager was a key part of the England U17 squad that made the semi-finals back in 2018 – “Rayhaan was, on his day, a really big threat — very direct and able to turn a game through his skill and athleticism,” said Cooper, now in charge of Swansea City.
Tulloch now finds himself on loan to Doncaster Rovers, under the stewardship of former boss Darren Moore, though injuries have curtailed his progress having started both their opening matches in League One.
He has been out ever since.
Within the next season or two, Albion will be in need of options upfront – both Kenneth Zohore and Charlie Austin will surely leave permanently whilst Hal Robson-Kanu is the wrong side of 30.
AND in other news, Exclusive: Chris Kirkland tips 66 y/o to replace Slaven Bilic…