West Brom could have a future star in Cheikh Diaby. And there won’t be a better time to unleash him than next season.
The Baggies are quickly heading towards an instant return to the Championship, just one season after gaining promotion to the big time under Slaven Bilic.
With only nine games remaining, Sam Allardyce has an impossible task in keeping Albion up as they sit ten points adrift of safety.
The 66-year-old brought in several players during the January transfer window to aid their quest, but evidently, that has failed to pay off despite an upturn in performances as they have won just once since the market closed.
A lot of the incoming were loanees, so it is hard to envisage them sticking around if – and likely when – West Brom are confirmed as a second-flight team once again.
That includes the impressive-looking Mbaye Diagne, who could be quite the force in the Championship, as explained by Football FanCast last week.
Though, he shouldn’t be short of suitors in the Premier League nor should a return to Galatasaray be off the cards.
Both Charlie Austin and Kenneth Zohore have spent the season out on loan, so it’s hard to see them having much of a future at the Hawthorns, meaning whoever is in charge next term is likely to be short on options upfront.
Out-of-favour Karlan Grant could be the only viable option, unless they turn to Diaby.
The Athletic’s Steve Madeley named the 21-year-old as ‘one to watch’ for the Baggies back in January, claiming that despite being ‘raw and unpolished’, he could be a potential option for Allardyce given his ‘physicality, power and pace’ – very much similar in nature to Diagne.
He also went onto suggest that he has an ability to play on the left flank, but his best position is through the middle as an ‘explosive centre-forward with a knack for scoring goals.’
Indeed, that has been the case for the academy set-up thus far. Diaby has bagged five goals in ten games for the U23s in the Premier League 2 this campaign, which included a run of four straight goal-scoring matches, as per Transfermarkt.
The young forward came through the promising Le Harve academy, where the likes of Paul Pogba and Dimitri Payet first emerged onto the scene, and Albion even beat off La Liga outfit Valencia to secure his signature.
At one stage, Diaby was heading for a loan exit, according to the Express & Star but evidently, that didn’t come to fruition. And considering his age, he ought to be in West Brom’s plans for next season.
“He’s a powerful boy, he’s going to score goals, he’s going to give defences a problem because of his physicality,” explained academy boss Richard Stevens.
Indeed, he has all the hallmarks of Diagne but is just hugely inexperienced. Unleashing him after the summer could save the Midlands outfit millions in the transfer window.
He could well be the ideal successor to the 29-year-old colossus.
AND in other news, Exclusive: Steve Bull wants to see Eddie Howe as West Brom manager