While Valerien Ismael has seen his West Bromwich Albion side get off to a fantastic start in their 2021/22 Championship campaign, with Albion picking up 13 points over their opening five fixtures of the season, as well as enjoying a relatively successful transfer window, there would nevertheless appear to be one position in which the Frenchman remains short of options – centre-forward.
Indeed, despite securing the signing of Norwich City centre-forward Jordan Hugill on a season-long loan, in terms of further options in the middle of his three-man attack, the 45-year-old can only feasibly call upon Kenneth Zohore – a player who was informed he was free to leave the club in the summer transfer window – working on the basis that Callum Robinson and Karlan Grant are deployed on either wing.
As such, the argument that it would have been wise for Ismael to bring in another option in the position is an easy one to make, especially with Peterborough United centre-forward Jonson Clarke-Harris available on the market for a reported fee of around £8m.
Considering just how impressive Clarke-Harris has been for Peterborough in recent seasons, an £8m outlay for the 27-year-old centre-forward very much looked as if it could have been a risk worth taking for West Brom, as the striker clearly boasts the ability to not only plug a gap in Ismael’s side, but to play a key role in firing Albion back to the Premier League.
Indeed, over his 44 League One appearances for Posh last season, the £900k-rated man scored a whopping 31 goals, registered three assists and created 11 big chances for his teammates, as well as taking an average of 2.9 shots and making one key pass per game.
These metrics saw the £6.1k-per-week striker earn a highly impressive seasonal SofaScore match rating of 7.24, ranking him as Darren Ferguson’s second-best performer in the third tier of English football.
And, while the man Ferguson dubbed a “leader” is yet to score over his five Championship appearances so far this season, he has still provided his teammates with two assists, in addition to averaging a SofaScore match rating of 7.02 – ranking him as the club’s best player in the league.
As such, should Hugill go on to repeat his form for Norwich City last season, when the 29-year-old scored four goals over his 31 Championship appearances, Ismael could very quickly live to regret not making a move for a proven goalscorer such as Clarke-Harris.
Ivan Toney has already shown the power of a centre-forward signed from Peterborough can do for a promotion-chasing side in the Championship. Clarke-Harris could have been the Baggies’ own version of the Brentford hitman.