Reyes Cleary is the latest West Brom youngster to refrain from committing their long-term future to the Baggies and here we look at the consequences that may have at the Hawthorns.
The 18-year-old has scored 23 goals in 28 games for the under-18s and under-23s sides this season and made his senior debut against Brighton in the FA Cup back in January but has been left out of the last two rounds of the Premier League Cup with speculation surrounding his future mounting.
According to Birmingham Live his displays at youth level have led to interest from Arsenal, Everton, Newcastle and Southampton as well as on the continent from Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen and RB Salzburg.
Now the Express and Star have said that the youngster told the Baggies back in March that he wouldn’t be signing professional terms despite an ‘attractive package’ being offered and that he has decided to leave.
It’s another blow for the west Midlands club and here at TIF we look at the consequences…
Slipping through the net
If West Brom do indeed have hopes of making it back to the Premier League, which we are sure they do, then becoming a reputable club for not being able to hold on to their best youngsters isn’t the most effective method of doing so.
This isn’t the first time they have seen a player that they developed move on to pastures new and nor would you think it would be the last.
In recent years Albion have let slip a plethora of burgeoning talents only to see them go on and flourish and although not all of them worked out they certainly could have carved out a career for themselves had they stayed at the Hawthorns.
Will West Brom go up next season?
Nathan Ferguson was pinched by former Baggies boss Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace two years ago and despite an injury nightmare since trading for Selhurst Park the 21-year-old who turned down West Brom’s advances to seal a switch could still prove to be a Premier League level player.
Towering Fulham defender Tosin Adarabioyo once of Manchester City spent the 2018/19 season at the club before being snapped up by the Championship winners when perhaps, West Brom should have acted.
Walsall-born Kemar Roofe is a different situation as he was ultimately let go by the club without ever making a first-team appearance in 2015 and is now part of the Rangers side heading for a Europa League final but just last summer they lost their 2021 Academy player of the year Tim Iroegbunam to local rivals Aston Villa.
As the Baggies went down and Vila not only survived but thrived in the Premier League last season perhaps the lure of the top-flight attracted the 18-year-old and it already feels like a huge loss with the England U19 international breaking into the first team under Steven Gerrard and even a first Premier League start at the end of last month.
The ex-Liverpool captain clearly has high hopes for Iroegbunam saying to the Birmingham Mail:
“He’s a top professional.
“We think the world of him. He’s got a big future here.”
Seeing the youngster progressing will no doubt be a bitter pill for West Brom officials to swallow especially considering how he turned down a generous offer at the Hawthorns to stay at the club according to the Express and Star.
It is clear that these promising talents don’t see a positive future for themselves at the Baggies with Cleary as the latest example but somewhere down the line, the club need to buck that trend and blood through a steady stream of academy prospects.
Achieving promotion to the big time would be sure to help but at the least, the club needs to be in a position where they can receive a fee for these players instead of losing them on a free at the end of their youth contracts.