Having progressed through the Baggies’ academy, an 18-year-old Iroegbunam made the short trip to Bodymoor Heath to sign for the Premier League side on a free transfer.
After a year of impressing in the Premier League 2 for the Villans, the central midfielder was sent out on loan earlier this year, linking up with former Villa assistant manager Michael Beale at Queens Park Rangers.
He has since gone on to make 17 appearances for the Hoops in the second tier and looks set to be an integral part of Neil Critchley’s side for the rest of the season as they target a playoff spot.
Although the teenager is yet to score or assist in the Championship, he is still catching the eye with his performance, with WhoScored awarding him a solid 6.64 rating for his performances.
Considering this is higher than the likes of Jason Molumby, Taylor Gardner-Hickman and Tomas Rogic have managed in the second tier this season, it seems clear that Iroegbunam could have quickly progressed into the first team had he remained at the Hawthorns.
Beale was full of praise for the youngster’s attitude and ability on Twitter during his time at Villa Park, writing:
“He is a top young footballer and a super-impressive young man also. A very bright future ahead.”
Former manager Steven Gerrard was also a big fan of the youngster, and given his reputation as one of the best central midfielders English football has ever produced, you would expect him to have a good eye for midfield talent.
“He’s a long project for us to work at. He’s still very raw but he’s got a lot of attributes that we like.
“I went to watch him for the under-23s in the week (vs Norwich) and he started a little bit slow and, obviously, got sent off at the end but in the middle bit of the game, he was outstanding and looked like a Premier League player. He’s one I’m excited to keep developing and keep polishing up.
“He’s a great kid, humble, and needs to keep working.”
After his spell at Loftus Road this season, it seems likely that Unai Emery will have to think long and hard about keeping Iroegbunam in the Premier League squad next season and if he does become a regular in the top flight, West Brom will have to think why he wasn’t given more opportunities at the Hawthorns and why he decided to leave for Villa last year.