Following the arrival of Valerien Ismael at West Bromwich Albion this summer, a manager who has something of a reputation for developing younger talents, Albion fans would have undoubtedly been expecting to see a number of the club’s academy prospects breaking into the Frenchman’s first-team squad.
And, while youngsters such as Taylor Gardner-Hickman, Ethan Ingram, Caleb Taylor, Tom Fellows, Toby King, Quevin, Rico Richards, Mo Faal and Rayhaan Tulloch have all featured for the senior side already this season, West Brom have also sanctioned the departures of a couple of highly-rated talents, including Rekeem Harper and Finley Thorndike – the latter of whom recently joined Aston Villa.
Indeed, the decision to release Thorndike could well be a call that the club and Ismael come to regret, as the attacking midfielder would very much appear to be a player who boasts a significant amount of potential.
While Thorndike failed to make a first-team appearance for the Baggies, the 19-year-old nevertheless impressed during his time while playing for the various West Brom youth sides.
Indeed, over his 29 appearances for the U18s, the attacking midfielder scored 11 goals and registered one assist, as well as scoring three goals and providing one assist over his 16 fixtures with the U23 team – which the youngster was promoted to at the beginning of last season.
Furthermore, the man Aston Villa academy manager Mark Harrison dubbed a “creative” player has already demonstrated his ability for Villa’s U23 side, scoring one goal and registering one assist over his three Premier League 2 appearances for his new side.
As such, considering Ismael’s reputation of helping young players establish themselves in his first team, it would certainly appear as if Thorndike would have been a player the Frenchman could have worked wonders with.
And, should the 19-year-old be able to maintain his fine form for Villa’s U23 side over the course of the season, it would not be surprising to see the midfielder in and around the club’s senior squad towards the end of the current campaign – something that would certainly cause a great deal of regret for everyone involved with West Brom, as well as confirming that letting the teenager go was a big mistake.