The summer transfer window is an important time for all clubs, as they look to strengthen their squads to ensure success for the coming season. Additionally, it is always an exciting albeit frustrating time for the fans of these clubs. There is nothing more exciting than your club bringing in a new player, though depending on the player your excitement levels may vary. Every hint of a new signing, every little whisper, every dodgy twitter rumour is pounced upon and discussed by fans.
West Brom are no different, it is clear that signings are needed for the club to continue their progress in establishing themselves as a premier league club. And Albion have been fairly busy, bringing in Ben Foster, Yassine El Ghanassay and Claudio Yacob, with Swedish Forward Markus Rosenberg joining on a free transfer today.
Although making new additions to the squad is hugely important, for Albion I feel that the retaining of key players from their previous two premier league seasons is of even more significance than these new signings. In particular, I am talking about Jonas Olsson, Youssuff Mulumbu and Peter Odemwingie. The transfer window is an exciting time, but it is also a worrying time for anyone who like me, supports a club below the top 3 teams in this division, as key players are constantly linked with moves away from their clubs, like all three of these players have.
Youssuff Mulumbu has become a key player for Albion since joining in the reign of Tony Mowbray. Mulumbu was not at his best last season, at least in comparison to his exploits of the previous season where he ended up 2nd top goal-scorer and was the driving force of the Albion midfield. However, he did not have a bad season by any stretch of the imagination and remained a pivotal part of the side playing a more disciplined role, with his absence always having a notable effect on the energy of the Albion side. He was linked with clubs earlier in the transfer window, but this interest seems to have died down for the moment. Having decided to let go of Paul Scharner and Keith Andrews, and only bringing in Yacob, Albion will not want to lose Mulumbu.
Whilst interest in Mulumbu has died down, rumours continue to persist regarding the future of star striker Odemwingie. Reports of a bust-up between him and new manager Steve Clarke were denied, seemingly made-up to fill a slow news day. But Albion have already rejected a bid for Odemwingie’s services this summer, and could possibly receive more bids for him. Odemwingie is a rare commodity, a proven premier league goal-scorer, something that Albion spent many years trying to find. Again, he didn’t have his best season last year yet still reached double figures, taking him to 25 premier league goals in two seasons. Keeping Odemwingie will be absolutely vital to Albion’s success this season, he has the ability to change games and score important goals on a regular basis, and I feel this season a change to a more attacking style under Steve Clarke will see Odemwingie return to something like his best form.
And the final member of the trio I mentioned is the one whose future is in doubt the most, Jonas Olsson. He is heading into the final year of his contract, and the debate towards the start of the summer was whether Albion should cash in on Olsson or keep a hold of him and risk losing him on a free next year, if they cannot get him to sign a new contract. Of the three, Olsson’s absence is most noticeable when Albion play. Olsson has had injury spells in Albion’s three premier league seasons since he has been at the club, and it is during those spells that Albion’s form has dropped off significantly, and only when he returns does the side look as solid. Arguably, he also adds to the offensive game of Albion, Olsson’s distribution is inconsistent, but on his day, he brings the ball out of defence very well something Albion’s other centre backs struggle with.
Again rumours of Olsson’s departure have died down and it seems as if he will at least start the season at The Hawthorns, and that will be a huge boost to everyone at the club. Olsson built up a great partnership with Gareth McAuley, provides great leadership and is a proven premier league performer, no club of our stature can afford to lose these sort of players. The signing of Rosenberg, a good friend of Olsson, also gives fans some hope that he will stay on and hopefully sign a new contract.
Although summer signings are a statement of intent, a far bigger one is keeping a hold of your best players, and so far this summer Albion are doing that.