West Bromwich Albion have lost the services of highly-rated left-back Lino Da Cruz Sousa.
That’s according to a report by football.london, who claim that Arsenal have secured a deal for the 16-year-old West Brom wonderkid in the January transfer window, with the defender becoming Mikel Arteta’s first signing of the winter market.
The report goes on to state that, after highly impressing in the Baggies academy set up, the England U16 international had caught the eye of a number of top-flight sides this month, however, it would now appear that the North London side have won the race for the Albion starlet.
Considering the sheer amount of potential Sousa quite clearly possesses, in addition to the fact that West Brom have made something of a habit of losing their most prized youth prospects for next to nothing in recent seasons, the news that the 16-year-old has also left The Hawthorns for greener pastures is sure to have left fans of Albion fuming.
Indeed, despite his tender age, the left-back had been a regular in West Brom’s U18 side last season, scoring two goals and registering one assist over his 16 U18 Premier League appearances, in addition to making one outing for the U23 side.
As such, it is not difficult to see why expectations were so high for Sousa at The Hawthorns, with West Brom coach Peter Gilbert previously stating of the teenager: “Lino’s an athletic full-back, reads the game well, has a lovely left foot. It’s not often a 16-year-old plays an entire season with the 18s, but that’s credit to him because he has so much potential.”
However, despite clearly being extremely highly thought of at West Brom, Sousa has now become the latest in a long line of Albion academy prospects to leave the club before having the opportunity to make any real impact in the first team over the last three years, following the likes of Morgan Rogers, Nathan Ferguson, Tim Iroegbunam, Finley Thorndike, Finn Azaz and Louie Barry – all of whom have left the club in the last three years.
Indeed, were West Brom able to keep hold of these talents, alongside the likes of Taylor Gardner-Hickman, Reyes Cleary and Ethan Ingram, Valerien Ismael would currently be in possession of an extremely talented crop of youth players, many of whom would undoubtedly be pushing for a regular starting spot in the Frenchman’s side.
However, yet again, West Brom have let another extremely talented prospect slip through their fingers in Sousa, with Ismael now having played a part in what is turning into a rather serious and long-term issue at The Hawthorns – something the club simply must address as quickly as possible.