West Brom close in on Charlie Taylor signing
Albion are closing in on their first signing of the summer as negotiations with Leeds left-back Charlie Taylor near completion.
Talks between the player’s representatives and the Baggies are almost finished with just a final few terms to be agreed before a pre-contract agreement can be signed.
Taylor is out of contract at the end of June and will officially arrive at The Hawthorns on a free transfer.
However, because he is under 24 and has come through the Leeds youth system, Albion will need to cough up compensation after a tribunal with estimates putting the figure somewhere between £4million and £7m.
Taylor refused to play in United’s final game of the season at the weekend as he prepared for life away from Elland Road, but his decision was branded ‘naive’ by Leeds boss Garry Monk and the 23-year-old has had disciplinary proceedings opened against him by the club.
“There’s no sugar-coating it, Charlie refused to play” said Monk. “He’s acted naively, not with any bad intention, but he’s been terribly advised.”
Despite that act of defiance, Baggies boss Tony Pulis is keen to bring the long-term target to The Hawthorns in order to plug the gap at left-back.
Pulis has been looking for a left-back since he arrived at the club more than two years ago and removed Sebastien Pocognoli from the team.
Chris Brunt, Jonny Evans, James McClean, Allan Nyom and, most recently, Marc Wilson, have all been played there out of position.
Taylor is also in the perfect age bracket for Pulis, who wants to sign more players in their mid-20s in order to bring the average age down before his experienced players start to retire.
“We’ve got the oldest squad in the Premier League,” said Pulis. “It’s just under the mid-20s we need players. We’ve got some good young players but we need to find that middle ground as well. The balance of the squad is most probably tipped at the top end.”
Once Taylor fills the hole at left-back, the Baggies will turn their attention to the threadbare forward line and the centre-back position.
Watford’s Troy Deeney remains the primary target up front, and the Baggies have been linked with Middlesbrough centre-back Ben Gibson.
Pulis saw Gibson play on Monday night when he prepared for Friday's game against champions-elect Chelsea by attending their match with Boro at Stamford Bridge.