West Bromwich Albion are interested in a deal to bring Tom Lawrence to The Hawthorns this summer.
That’s according to a report by the Daily Mail, who claim that, with Matheus Pereira looking set to leave the Championship side in the near future, Valerien Ismael is beginning to make plans for life after the Brazilian.
And, the report goes on to state that the Derby County midfielder is high on the 45-year-old’s list of transfer targets should Pereira indeed go on to seal a move away from The Hawthorns this summer.
It is also reported that, with the Rams being in the midst of something of a financial crisis, Wayne Rooney’s side are willing to listen to offers for any of their players, while Lawrence himself is believed to be interested in taking on a new challenge.
While losing the services of Pereira will undoubtedly come as a blow for many West Brom fans, the winger’s natural positioning and style of play do not overly conform with Ismael’s favoured 3-4-3 formation – which often looks more like a 3-4-2-1 – nor the manager’s more vertical brand of football.
Indeed, in the Frenchman’s 3-4-3/3-4-2-1, the wing-backs are crucial to the progression of the ball, while the wide attacking players often drop into the spaces behind the number nine, in order to free up room for the high-pressing defenders.
So, the two attacking players other than the centre-forward spend the majority of their time operating almost like a double 10, although, they will also be required to play out wide when it is necessary.
As such, the £27k-per-week Lawrence would appear to be something of a perfect fit for this system, as the forward’s versatility can see him comfortably operate from the left, centre or right-hand side of a front three, in addition to the fact he is an undeniably gifted footballer.
Indeed, despite Derby’s struggles last season, the £3.2m-rated man nevertheless impressed over his 23 Championship appearances, scoring three goals, providing two assists and creating one big chance for his teammates, as well as taking an average of 2.2 shots and making 0.8 key passes per fixture.
As such, should the sale of Pereira indeed go through this summer, it would appear highly advisable for Ismael to spend a chunk of the cash raised on the signing of the 27-year-old, as Lawrence very much appears to have the ability as well as the tactical capacity that could see him play a key role in helping Albion secure an immediate return to the Premier League next season.