West Bromwich Albion are in a desperate race against time to secure Slaven Bilic a new forward.
Even if the club manage to secure one of them, the Croatian boss ought to consider promoting from within as it’s clear that Albion flops Charlie Austin and Kenneth Zohore have no long-term future at the club.
Whereas their impressive academy setup is full of promising talent with bags of potential – none more so than Rico Richards, who features in the Guardian’s ‘Next Generation’ list this week.
Back in August, the 17-year-old signed his first professional contract at the Hawthorns despite interest from the Premier League and even across Europe.
Ben Fisher claims the young sensation can be deployed through the middle or out wide, adding: “he has a creative eye in terms of finding others but is equally capable of carving openings for himself.”
Richards even started to make soundwaves on the training pitch, it’s thought that both Charlie Austin and Chris Brunt were “wowed” by his performances, so much so that they spoke to coaching staff about him.
The likes of Izzy Brown, Jonathan Leko and Morgan Rogers all made their first-team debuts before their 17th birthday, so Bilic should have no qualms in trusting Richards to take the step up.
Top-flight big dogs, including Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs, all wanted a piece of the teenager before he signed that deal according to reports so it’s time to repay that faith in him, especially during this mini-crisis.
Hopefully, Albion give him this chance so that he can become the new Kyle Edwards or Saido Berahino rather than a forgotten starlet like Brown, Jerome Sinclair, Yan Dhanda or a Louie Barry.
AND in other news, Albion’s £40k-per-week forgotten man has been one massive disaster…