West Brom may not know which division they will be competing in next season, but that isn’t stopping them from planning ahead.
Conor Townsend has signed a new three-and-a-half-year extension, having emerged as Sam Allardyce’s first-choice left-back over Kieran Gibbs, and now it appears as if club captain Kyle Bartley is next in line to receive an extension.
The Athletic’s Steve Madeley claims that the 29-year-old’s contract has been increased by a further year, so whether the Baggies stay up or face an instant return to the Championship, the former Leeds star will still be around.
Among those soon to be a free-agent is long-serving duo Hal Robson-Kanu and Gibbs, as well as academy graduate Kyle Edwards, who has severely struggled for game time this season.
In May, Albion activated a one-year extension clause in the 23-year-old’s £20k-per-week contract just several months after Madeley claimed that Slaven Bilic wanted to keep him around for the long-term, though evidently, things have vastly changed since then.
Edwards has only played 59 minutes since Allardyce was appointed in mid-December, that being their FA Cup defeat to Blackpool, whilst under the Croatian, he started just one match and could only last 45 minutes, via Transfermarkt.
In total, the Dudley-born winger has played more minutes for the U23 squad than the senior side in any competition this term, only further failing to live up to the potential he was once touted with.
Romaine Sawyers waxed lyrical in an interview with The Athletic last year, having come through the same very academy set-up.
“I remember Kyle when he was proper, proper small – he was an unbelievable player even then,” said the 29-year-old before adding: “Mark Harrison, our old academy manager, told my age group, ‘We’ve got this kid who is 10 years old and this is Messi.’ No word of a lie; I could see the comparison back then. If Kyle’s got videos, I’d urge him to show anybody. He was unbelievable and to see him now in the first team warms my heart.”
Edwards has played 49 times for the Baggies but has only delivered four goals and five assists, none of which coming in the top-flight, via Transfermarkt, so clearly he’s struggled to live up to that fateful “Messi” tag.
That’s one goal contribution every 2.5 matches, which isn’t good enough and only goes to show why Allardyce is yet to utilise him despite all of their struggles.
With him out of contract at the end of the season, it’s time for Albion to part ways with their youth product. He’s just not good enough and is yet to display anything to suggest otherwise.
Edwards’ time must be up at the Hawthorns.