West Bromwich Albion did not make a move for a right-back this summer due to Valerien Ismael’s faith in Albion’s youth prospects.
That’s according to a Joseph Masi report for The Express & Star, with the journalist claiming that, despite a distinct lack of depth at right wing-back, the Frenchman decided not to sanction a move for a player in the position over the course of the summer transfer window due to his faith in both Taylor Gardner-Hickman and Ethan Ingram.
Masi continued by stating that many West Brom fans, himself included, would have liked to see the 45-year-old strengthen the position this summer.
However, the journalist went on to add that very few fans of the club would want to see the pathway of a promising youngster to the first-team blocked.
While it is indeed true that, should Darnell Furlong pick up an injury over what is sure to be a long and arduous Championship campaign for West Brom, Ismael will have a very limited number of senior options to replace the 25-year-old, the fact that the 45-year-old is so keen to place his trust in the likes of Gardner-Hickman and Ingram should excite Albion fans.
Indeed, while the 18-year-old Ingram and the 19-year-old Gardner-Hickman have made just one senior appearance each for the Baggies, should the youngsters possess the ability to feature in the Championship on occasions this season – which Ismael clearly feels they do – the experience of playing in the second tier of English football will only help their development in the professional game.
And, if one of the young right-backs can go on to secure the spot of Furlong’s deputy in the position, or potentially even begin the push the £4.5m-rated man for his starting place in Ismael’s side come the end of the season, the Frenchman will certainly be vindicated in his decision not to bring in a fresh face at right-back this summer – not only because the emergence of an academy prospect will have saved the club money, but his faith in the youngsters could potentially help create a very valuable asset for the Baggies.
Fans love to see one of their own come through the system and make their mark on the first-team, and it’s exactly why Ismael’s reported faith in West Brom’s youngsters is an exciting approach.