You would do well to find a Baggies fan out there who doesn’t want James Morrison to sign a new contract. The midfield schemer is the club’s second-longest serving player and has been a key figure ever since his arrival from Middlesbrough back in 2007.
However; as times goes on, it’s looking more and more likely that an agreement between the player and the club cannot be reached and that a move away from the Hawthorns in the summer (when he becomes a free agent) is the likely outcome.
I for one will be disappointed as I still feel Morrison is a very good player at this level. He is very adept in the more advanced central midfield position (the hole) and chips in with half a dozen goals and assists most seasons.
If he is to leave in the summer, then it’s vital the club bring in a suitable replacement. So seeing as I’m such a charitable character, I thought I would lend manager Tony Pulis and his team of scouts a hand by suggesting five possible replacements if Morrison does decide on pastures new.
As we all know; our beloved chairman Mr Jeremy Peace likes a bargain, so I have thrown in a couple of cheaper alternatives in order to keep all parties happy:
Davy Klaassen (Ajax- Age 23)
Another talented Dutch youngster to emerge from the renowned Ajax youth academy, the 23-year-old attacking midfielder was named club captain at the start of the 2015-16 season, and it’s safe to say he has risen to the challenge and led by example – scoring 13 goals and assisting eight times so far this campaign.
It would most likely take a large chunk of our transfer budget to agree a fee with the Dutch giants and with the likes of Sevilla reportedly interested, some major persuading would be needed to get him to join, but as the club proved with Salomon Rondon last season, it can be done. If West Brom are to make the step up to a top 10 regular then we really need to be bringing in players of this calibre, and with us in desperate need of top class quality in the creativity department, bringing in someone like Klaassen would go a long way to proving to the fans that the club genuinely wants to achieve more than mere survival.
Ivelin Popov (Spartak Moscow – Age 28)
It’s no surprise that the Bulgaria captain has been linked to a move to the Premier League in the past. The Spartak Moscow man is technically very gifted, able to both create and score goals, and is also very strong and tenacious in the tackle, attributes that would fit Premier League football very nicely.
After impressing in the Russian Premier League for three seasons with Kuban Krasnodar, Russian heavyweights Spartak parted with approximately £5.5m in June 2015 to secure his services. The short period of time he’s been at the club and the sizeable transfer fee Spartak would likely request are potential sticking points, but from what I have seen of him I think he would fit very well into a Premier League outfit and would be worth the extra effort trying to make a move materialise. Also, due to the fact he is now in his prime, he would most definitely be tempted at testing himself in the world’s best league.
Stefan Johansen (Celtic – Age 25)
Johansen was rightly named Celtic Player of the Season for 2014-15 after his all-action displays in the middle of the park helped the Hoops to a league and cup double. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to carry on that fine form into this campaign finding his playing time limited due to the ridiculous amount of midfielders Celtic have on their books.
With current manager Ronny Deila departing at the end of the season, I think there is a good chance Johansen may follow the man who brought him to the club out the door also, and if this is the case, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Premier League was his next destination.
Albion were recently linked to fellow team-mates Charlie Mulgrew and James Forrest a few weeks back, so I’m hoping that Johansen is someone that our scouting network also has an eye on as I really think he would be an astute acquisition and would make the step up with ease.
Tom Cairney (Fulham – Age 25)
It’s safe to say Fulham have had a season to forget. The Cottagers just about managed to retain their Championship status this season, flirting with relegation throughout the campaign. It’s a strange one as they have some very talented players. Ross McCormack and Moussa Dembele are the ones most will think of first but the one player who has impressed me when I have seen them play is Cairney.
The former Hull and Blackburn man was snapped up for approximately £3.5million from the latter at the end of last season, going on to score seven and assist six in his maiden season for the London outfit. From what I have seen, I definitely think Cairney has what it takes to make a name for himself in the Premier League, and, due to the reasonable transfer fee I would envisage him costing, it would allow the club to use the limited transfer funds available, elsewhere.
Bradley Dack (Gillingham – Age 22)
It’s safe to say Dack has had a stellar campaign for the Gills. Scoring 15 and setting up nine in all competitions from the middle of the park is no mean feat, and those statistics rightly led to him being awarded the League One Player of the Season award. Links to the Premier League have already done the rounds, with Crystal Palace being the latest team to have apparent interest in the long-haired attacking midfielder.
The Baggies have a decent record of plucking talented players from the lower leagues and I think the club could do a lot worse than Dack. No offence to Gillingham, but if they aren’t able to achieve promotion this campaign (they currently have a chance of making the play-offs with one game remaining) then I doubt Dack will be there next season. Is the Premier League too big a step up? Possibly. But I can’t imagine much in the way of money being required to secure his services, so for me it’s a risk definitely worth taking.