When West Brom secured promotion back to the Premier League in 2020, their star player wasn’t up for debate.
Brazilian playmaker Matheus Pereira was on loan from Sporting CP and took to the English game like a duck to water, chipping in with eight goals and 16 assists across the campaign.
The Baggies turned his move permanent as they moved up to the Premier League and once again he was the stand-out player in their squad, scoring 11 goals and registering six assists in England’s top flight. It wasn’t enough to keep the Midlands side in the division though and he eventually made the move to Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia to continue his career away from the Hawthorns.
With West Brom back in the Championship this season, they are desperate to get back to the top flight as quickly as possible. They currently sit third in the division, six points behind Bournemouth in the automatic promotion places. Their problem this year has been relatively easy to spot; they aren’t scoring enough goals.
Valerien Ismael’s side have managed just 29 goals in 21 games so far this season, with top scorer Karlan Grant hitting nine of those. Callum Robinson has chipped in with three goals as the main striker, while he leads the assist charts for his club with six this season.
But the lack of quality in the final third is clear for all to see and it shows just how much they are missing Pereira in their side.
During his year in the Championship, Pereira averaged 2.6 shots, 2.8 key passes, 1.5 dribbles and 0.2 through balls per game.
In comparison, this season Grant has averaged 2.5 shots, 1.2 key passes, 1 dribble and zero through balls a match, while fellow attacker Matty Phillips has averaged 1.5 shots, 1 dribble and key passes an outing to go with only 0.1 through balls.
It shows the clear difference in quality and level between West Brom’s current options in the final third compared with Pereira, a player dubbed “incredible” by former coach, Nate Weiss. It makes it clear how much they miss him.
The £13.5m-rated wizard won’t be making a return to the Hawthorns any time soon, so the Baggies must find a way to replace him or regret letting him go in the first place.
AND in other news, West Brom must keep Sam Johnstone beyond January.