West Brom boss Sam Allardyce is eyeing a reunion with one of his former players, according to reports…
French outlet L’Equipe (via GFFN), claim the Baggies have been in contact with Ligue 1 side Bordeaux over the possibility of signing 22-year-old forward Josh Maja before Monday’s transfer deadline.
The former Sunderland youth product has slipped down the pecking order at Les Girondins, and Allardyce knows the player from his time in charge of the Black Cats.
Another player that Allardyce had during one of his ‘great escapes’ was Jermain Defoe, coincidentally also at the Stadium of Light. The former Spurs and England marksman was a catalyst in the 2015/16 campaign.
He bagged 13 of his 15 league goals under Big Sam, which included a late winner in a 3-2 win over Chelsea, a goal against eventually relegated Norwich and a last-minute equaliser against Liverpool.
The ‘firefighter’ built his team around the diminutive 5 foot 7 forward, and it paid dividends and given that Maja was mentored by Defoe, the Baggies boss could be looking to repeat that here.
Speaking about the veteran’s influence, Maja told Touchline Fracas (via Sunderland Echo):
“Jermain Defoe was probably one of my biggest admirers because I think he just liked the fact that I was good at finishing.
“He liked me a lot and was able to give me advice on different tips, different ways of finishing, disguising keepers, disguising defenders, short back lift, different techniques and it was a good time because Sunderland were doing well, I was learning and I was getting experience and I was enjoying my time.”
The 22-year-old would leave Sunderland for Bordeaux in a £1.5m deal in 2019 where he has had mixed success. Last term, he bagged eight times in all competitions despite only playing a total of 894 minutes, whilst he’s only added a further two goals this campaign, via Transfermarkt.
It was Allardyce who first spotted his potential as a young teenager in the north-east, so perhaps he can be the man to get even more lucrative returns out of him. He wrote in the club programme: “The talent is there with Josh and the question is, can the player develop his talent so that he is knocking on the door of the first-team?”
Whilst local journo Phil Smith dubbed Maja a “unique talent” and claimed that he was “gutted” to see him leave, a little over two years to the day.
If the Albion hierarchy can strike a deal for the 5 foot 11 dynamo, it could see Big Sam unearth his next Defoe, and both the club and the manager will be hoping that he too can be their survival saviour – just like the 38-year-old in 2016.
AND in other news, Exclusive: West Brom urged to sign Premier League outcast…