Boss Steve Clarke today backed Nicolas Anelka to make his mark at Albion and insisted his star summer signing is not at The Hawthorns for an easy ride.
Anelka is standing by for his competitive Baggies debut when the Premier League season kicks off at home to Southampton tomorrow.
And Clarke insists the former France international still has plenty to offer despite arriving at The Hawthorns at the age of 34.
“He’s not just a ‘name signing’,” said Clarke. “We run with a very small squad so we can’t sign someone just because of their name.
“We have to make sure that he can improve the squad. By the time we get to the end of the transfer window the chairman will tell me we have to have 19 outfield players and three goalkeepers. Those are the numbers we work with.
“Nicolas is up for it. If he wasn’t up for it, he would have chosen to go somewhere else where he could have an easier life and still pick up decent money. He knows coming back to the Premier League there is no easy life and no easy games. Every game is difficult. He knows what he is coming back to. It’s not the unknown to him.”
Steve Clarke speaks on Nicolas Anelka ahead of the Southampton game
And Clarke rubbished suggestions that the signing of Anelka was a gamble by the Baggies after the ex-Arsenal, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Chelsea man received a reputation as a difficult character.
He was dubbed ‘Le Sulk’ earlier in his career when he demanded a move from the Gunners to Real. But Clarke said: “There is no down-side with Nicolas. There’s an image that the press portray but I find him a very engaging character and a good person.”