Bilic must unshackle “all-round” £9m West Brom gem, it’ll help unlock Grant massively – opinion

Bilic must unshackle “all-round” £9m West Brom gem, it’ll help unlock Grant massively – opinion

West Brom have long struggled to score goals, even during their promotion campaign.

Baggies outcast Charlie Austin ended the campaign with ten for the season, making him their top goalscorer – a far cry from the 23 that Dwight Gayle managed just a season earlier albeit under a different manager.

It’s why Karlan Grant was signed for £15m from Huddersfield Town this summer. He bagged nearly double what Austin managed with 19 goals in a struggling side.

However, it’s all well and good doing that but Slaven Bilic may still need to tweak his system to bring the best out of the 23-year-old.

In just his second start, Grant fired home his first goal by getting on the end of a low cross from Callum Robinson during Albion’s 1-1 draw with Brighton last week.

This sort of predatory instinct in the box should have Matheus Pereira’s ears ringing – but only if he’s deployed through the middle as it’s arguably his best and most lucrative position.

The Brazilian sensation, who signed for a total of £9m in the summer, delivered eight goals and 20 assists of which 64% of his goal contributions came in the number ten role, per Transfermarkt.

Yet this season, he’s played four of six games at right-wing and only once behind the striker.

As someone who averaged 2.8 key passes per game, via WhoScored, it’s imperative that the 24-year-old playmaker is the man feeding Grant as the season rumbles on.

There’s no point trying to whip in crosses for a player that’s not known for his aerial ability – he won just 0.8 duels on average per match last season – nor is that sort of thing in Bilic’s tactical playbook (West Brom ranked 16th for aerials won in the Championship).

Sky Sports pundit Keith Andrews described Pereira as “an all-round attacking player” who has blown him away with “his skill, his ability on the ball, the way he takes the game to the opposition and the vision he has.”

Whilst former coach Nate Weiss dubbed him a “genius” because “he is able to do things that no other player can do.”

Having him play centrally in attacking midfield is the best thing Bilic can do right now – the likes of Robinson, Grady Diangana and Kyle Edwards can take up the places out wide instead.

AND in other news, West Brom should unleash “exceptional” beast after Ahmed Hegazi sale

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