Diangana To West Bromwich Albion: What Were West Ham Thinking? - 9jaflaver

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Diangana To West Bromwich Albion: What Were West Ham Thinking?

The uproar provoked by the Hammers letting one of their prized assets depart has generated column inches…but was that decision reasonable?

When West Ham United sent prodigious talent Grady Diangana out on loan to West Bromwich Albion last season, the plan was for him to get gametime, gain valuable experience and return to the London Stadium ready to push for a place in the first team…or so we thought.

In fairness, two of those wishes were met: the exciting winger played 30 times for the Albion as they regained promotion to the top flight after two years away, and was probably Slaven Bilic’s second-most-important attacker behind the mesmeric Matheus Pereira.

The third hope for the 22-year-old academy graduate seemed to be a mere formality after an impressive campaign at The Hawthorns where he scored eight times and set up six in 23 starts. Diangana, in what many felt was his final game for the Baggies at the time, more or less sealed Premier League promotion for the West Midlands’ club.

Even though Brentford‘s twin losses to close out the campaign was arguably the primary reason for the wobbling Albion’s return to the big time, Diangana’s clutch showing in that final day draw with Queens Park Rangers was a joy to behold.

It was the youngster who levelled for the home side just before half-time after Roy Manning put the visitors ahead on a nervy matchday, before brilliantly setting up Callum Robinson for an easy tap-in to send Bilic’s team 2-1 up.

They ultimately drew 2-2 to secure promotion at Brentford’s expense and not for a second did Bilic imagine that, six weeks down the line, the livewire would be returning to the Hawthorns, permanently this time.

It seemed inconceivable, particularly after Diangana’s brilliant showing in West Ham’s 4-1 thrashing of Ipswich Town in late August where he was involved, in some way, in all four of the visitors’ strikes at Portman Road.

For the first, he outmuscled Idris El Mizouni on the left flank to get on the end of a loose ball on the byline, beat right-back Janoi Donacien before sending a low left-footed pullback for Sebastien Haller to score.

His assist for the French striker’s second was arguably better. Knowing how crowded it was in the penalty area, the young wideman isolated himself away from the bodies in the area, positioning himself far right within the width of the box hoping to be spotted by a teammate. Tomas Soucek did, and the winger impressively picked out Haller with a low ball at the far post who smashed a right-footed effort into the roof of the net.

West Ham’s third saw him pass the ball to Conor Coventry whose brilliant cross found Soucek to head home. For the Hammers’ fourth just after the hour mark, the loan returnee pressed centre-back, Luke Chambers, inside the box and the defender lost possession and Haller sealed his hat-trick.

All four goals showcased a different side of Diangana: the first showed his upper body strength and dribbling ability, the second highlighted his intelligence of movement and improved final ball, the third saw him pick out an easy pass after drawing two markers to himself, while the fourth displayed his willingness to press the man in possession.

Hat-trick man Haller was impressed, too, and he gushed about the talented wide attacker’s qualities after the comfortable pre-season success.

“It’s nice for us to have a kind of player like Grady,” the striker told West Ham TV. “Everyone knows the quality he has and then he went on loan to West Brom and everyone knows he performed pretty well. We are all happy to have him here and we are going to try to use his quality and strength, me most of all.

“Hopefully he will be giving me even more assists in the future!”

Less than two weeks after that encouraging showing, admittedly against League One opposition, Diangana was sold (sorry Haller) much to the disgust of everyone connected to West Ham including the amiable club captain Mark Noble who voiced out his disgust on social media.

Why then did the club’s decision-makers feel the need to let go of one of their top prospects, especially as they seemed to have plans for him in the first-team this season?

There’s a feeling that the club sanctioned the sale for financial reasons and not footballing motives. Given the realities with the pandemic, the Hammers needed to sell to players considered surplus to requirements in Moyes’ team in order to plug other holes in the side.

Players reportedly thought to command significant transfer fees included Felipe Anderson and Manuel Lanzini, while players in their thirties like Andriy Yarmolenko (30) and Robert Snodgrass (33) could have been sold, although for low fees. Had the Hammers had their way, this would have opened up a path for Diangana in the team.

However, there weren’t any takers for these players and time was of the essence. Their academy graduate was seen as a saleable asset and, reluctantly, they let him return to the league’s new boys for a decent fee with a reported sell-on clause if he leaves the Hawthorns later.

The confirmed chase of Burnley centre-back James Tarkowski makes sense especially for a side that conceded a staggering 62 times in the league last season – only four teams conceded more. Their return of 49 goals was better than eight teams in the bottom half and two sides in the top 10 – Burnley (43) and Sheffield United (39), which suggests where the London side’s major problem lies.

In truth, it feels like the end will justify the means in this situation.

If Tarkowski comes in, improves the side and they let in fewer goals, fans will come to understand the choice to let one of their top prospects go. If Moyes’ side struggle again and are, for instance, locked in a relegation battle with the Baggies, their worst nightmare will be seeing Diangana potentially involved in sending them to the Championship.

For now, the outrage seems justified. Even though the club were hesitant to sanction the departure, it was a decision they felt needed to be made with the season soon to start and the necessary tweaking of their squad.

While time will tell whether the right choice was made, for the time being, West Ham’s loss is seemingly West Brom’s gain.

source:- goal

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