While it would appear slightly harsh on Valerien Ismael to suggest that his tenure as West Bromwich Albion manager has got off to a bad start, as the Frenchman’s side have picked up 28 points over their 14 Championship fixtures so far this season, there is nevertheless a feeling that Albion’s third-place league position is papering over the cracks at The Hawthorns.
Indeed, despite receiving £18.97m in outgoing transfer fees this summer – including the £16.2m sale of influential attacking midfielder Matheus Pereira – West Brom did not spend a penny in the transfer window, with the club’s three permanent signings of Kean Bryan, Alex Mowatt and Adam Reach arriving on frees.
Ismael did add three further players to his first-team squad, with Brighton & Hove Albion duo Matt Clarke and Jayson Molumby and Norwich City centre-forward Jordan Hugill arriving on season-long loan deals, however, the general consensus appeared to be that Albion did not adequately strengthen their squad – particularly in attack.
Indeed, with loanee striker Mbaye Diagne returning to Galatasaray at the end of last season, it very much appeared as if West Brom could have done with signing a proven goalscoring number nine – with the club being heavily linked with a move for 21-year-old Orlando City centre-forward Daryl Dike.
However, upon the closure of the window, the only attacking addition Ismael had made was that of Hugill – who notched just four goals over 34 Championship appearances for Norwich last season.
And, considering the fact that the 29-year-old has scored only once over his ten league fixtures this term, the Frenchman’s mistake of failing to bring in an out and out goalscorer has only been highlighted further.
As such, it would appear to be an extremely wise move for Ismael to right this wrong in January, with reported summer target Dike once again appearing to be a fantastic option for the 46-year-old manager.
Not only did the 21-year-old bag nine goals over 19 appearances on loan under Ismael at Barnsley last season, but the £9m-rated man has also been in extremely impressive form upon his return to America.
Indeed, over his 15 MLS appearances so far this season, the USA international has scored seven goals, registered one assist and created two big chances for his teammates, in addition to averaging a SofaScore match rating of 7.05 – ranking him as Oscar Pareja’s joint third-best performer in the league.
So, be it on a loan deal or a permanent transfer, it would seem an absolute must for Ismael to move for the player who he himself dubbed an “unbelievable” talent this winter, as Dike is exactly the proven goalscorer the Baggies are crying out for.