West Bromwich Albion secured the permanent signing of striker Daryl Dike on New Years Day, with the 21-year-old making his Baggies debut against QPR on Saturday.
Although the USA international’s first game for the West Midlands outfit didn’t go to plan, with Albion losing 1-0, there will be plenty of excitement regarding what the former-Orlando City man can do based on his previous spell in the Championship on loan at Barnsley last season.
Under current West Brom manager Valerien Ismael, Dike scored nine goals in 22 appearances for the South Yorkshire outfit, helping them to secure a play-off place.
The 21-year-old returned to the MLS outfit, where former Manchester United star Nani had played, with the Portuguese labelling Dike “a special boy.”
Now at The Hawthorns, the £9m-rated striker will be looking to go one better than last season and secure promotion to the Premier League. What is for sure is that if the American can replicate similar form to that of last term, the Baggies’ bid for promotion will certainly be boosted.
Ismael’s side are currently fifth in the Championship, seven points off of the automatic promotion places and in need of an extra goal source.
The Black Country club are the league’s best defenders, having conceded just 20 goals. However, they’re the second-tier’s joint-tenth top scorers with 31 goals. First place Fulham have scored more than double with 64 in one game less.
It’s a major issue that needs to be resolved immediately. In fact, the Baggies haven’t particularly had a recognised goal scorer they could rely on for a handful of seasons now, with former loanee Romelu Lukaku enjoying the most fruitful campaign since the Belgian made the temporary move to The Hawthorns from Chelsea.
The striker scored 17 goals in the 2012/13 campaign, helping Albion to an eighth-placed finish. Similarities can certainly be drawn between the two strikers.
After all, his former teammate Jordan Williams once said: “Daryl has got a rocket of a right foot. I think he’s similar to Lukaku. He hasn’t scored as many goals yet, but he can hit a ball just as hard.”
Stood at 6 foot 2, Dike is only four centimetres shorter than the Belgian, with the use of their respective physicality a major part of both players’ games.
Of course, if Dike was to evolve into a world-class talisman-like Lukaku, Albion fans would be delighted. However, it is certainly realistic to expect the American to score double digits by the end of the season.
If so, the Baggies may have an improved shot at an instant return to the Premier League.