West Brom Opinion: Bilic’s reunion with Sam Byram would see the Baggies land the perfect replacement for Mason Holgate
According to Football London, West Brom manager Slaven Bilic is eyeing up a sensational reunion with his former West Ham player Sam Byram at the Hawthorns, with reports claiming that the Croatian is keen to add more depth and quality to his ranks before the next season gets underway.
Fellow Championship outfit Nottingham Forest are also believed to be interested after the 25-year-old spent the 2018-19 campaign on loan at the City Ground but Bilic’s familiarity with the player is expected to give the Baggies the upper hand in this deal. (h/t Football London)
Deemed surplus to demands by Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini, Byram joined Nottingham Forest on loan from West Ham last summer but a serious knee injury restricted him to just 6 Championship appearances for Martin O’Neill’s side over the course of the campaign.
A youth product of Leeds United, Byram rose to prominence in the Championship with his stellar performances at Elland Road before earning a move to the Premier League with West Ham back in January 2016.
Slaven Bilic, then at the helm of affairs for the Hammers, was the man responsible for bringing Byram to the top-flight and the talented right-back enjoyed quite a lot of first-team involvement under the Croatian.
The 25-year-old has made a total of 36 appearances for the Hammers in all competitions, with the majority of those coming in the 2016-17 campaign under the stewardship of Bilic.
However, frequent managerial changes at West Ham coupled with recurrent injuries haven’t allowed the right-back to fulfil his promise at East London, and he currently finds himself behind the likes of Pablo Zabaleta and Ryan Fredericks in the pecking order.
To put things into perspective, West Brom need to look at bringing in fresh faces this summer following the appointment of Bilic as the permanent manager.
The Croatian has been entrusted with the responsibility of building a squad in his own image in order to guide the Baggies to promotion to the Premier League as soon as possible and Sam Byram could prove to be a smart signing for the club.
It is true that Byram hasn’t had the best of luck with injuries in recent times but few would dare to argue that he is a really talented player. Byram, now 25, no longer falls within the bracket of promising youngsters, and he needs to start making a name for himself if he is to enjoy a distinguished career in English football.
Given that he apparently has no future at West Ham, it is important for him to settle down somewhere permanently in order to give himself a chance of getting his faltering career back on track. And reuniting with his former West Ham manager Bilic could help him regain his confidence and rediscover his old form.
The Baggies currently find themselves under pressure to bring in a replacement for the prolific Dwight Gayle, who has returned to Newcastle United following the expiry of his loan spell, whilst Jay Rodriguez continues to be linked with a host of Premier League clubs.
Central midfielders James Morrison, Rekeem Harper and Gareth Barry are all out of contract this summer, so Bilic has a lot of work to do in all areas of the pitch.
While reinforcements up front and in central midfield continue to be a priority for West Brom, the Baggies also need to cope with the departure of loanee Mason Holgate to is parent club Everton.
Holgate filled in at right-back and right wing-back in the second half of this past season but the Baggies hardly have any quality cover in that area of the pitch, with 36-year-old Tyrone Means being the only other choice.
Byram made 130 appearances for Leeds United in the Championship prior to his 2016 move to West Ham, meaning that the 25-year-old is fairly experienced at this level and it won’t be much of a gamble for the Baggies to bring him in this summer, provided he manages to stay fit for the upcoming season.
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Hence, it is not difficult to see why Slaven Bilic’s reunion with Sam Byran could solve a problem in a key area of the pitch for West Brom, and it might as well prove to be a masterstroke from the Croatian, as the Baggies look to build a formidable squad to reignite their surge for promotion next term.