No panicking from Slaven Bilic as West Brom look to rebuild squad
Slaven Bilic has been promised money to spend on rebuilding Albion’s squad following the high-profile departures of Craig Dawson and Jay Rodriguez.
The new boss is due to meet technical director Luke Dowling in Spain in the next 24 hours to discuss moving forward on targets.
The Baggies had to sell-to-buy this summer, but are now in a position to strengthen after Rodriguez moved to Burnley for £10million and Dawson joined Watford for £6m, although Rochdale will be given 20 per cent of that deal in sell-on fees.
Teenager Morgan Rogers has also joined Manchester City in a deal believed to be worth an initial £4m.
Signing a striker is top of the priority list after the Baggies lost their two main forwards from last season.
Salomon Rondon will also be sold this summer, leaving Hal Robson-Kanu as the only recognised senior striker in the squad.
Albion’s other business will depend on how much they spend up front, and Bilic admitted the Baggies would have to strike a balance between loan and permanent signings.
Filip Krovinovic, who arrived on a season-long loan from Benfica, is the only signing of the summer so far, and the Championship season starts in 24 days, but Albion's new boss insists he’s not panicking.
“Nowadays recruitment is the most important thing – to be clever, to be active, to know what you want to do, and then to be lucky a bit,” said Bilic.
“So yes, we’ve lost a few players, we’ve lost from last season five or six players who were good loanees.
“It was Dwight Gayle, now we lost Dawson and Jay Rodriguez – he’s a brilliant player and character to have around.
“Put it like this, we have to somehow compensate for losing 48 goals. Even Real Madrid has struggled without Ronaldo’s 50 goals. So we have to be active.
“I’m not panicking, of course we have our plan. I’m going to have a word tonight or tomorrow with the director, we have our list and we have to make a balance between loaning and buying.
“We have good connections and we have a plan. As I said you have to be a little bit lucky to find the right ones. But we have to spend.
“Fortunately, I’m being told we have some money to spend. I was told we had to sell to buy.
“Salomon is probably going to go as well, hopefully that will finish quickly and we can activate the targets we’ve been working on for the last two and a half weeks.”
Bilic has been assessing his squad in Spain this week, and has taken a number of youngsters with him on the training camp.
Academy products Jack Fitzwater, Dara O'Shea, Kyle Edwards, Sam Field, Rekeem Harper, Jonathan Leko, Josh Griffiths, Rayhaan Tulloch and Kane Wilson have all travelled with the squad.
“West Brom was always well-known for the academy,” said Bilic. “When I played against them when I was managing West Ham, twice they gave debuts to kids, I think it was Sam Field and Jonathan Leko.
“West Brom have always been a good academy club. A few guys are really good here, not just offering numbers to improve our squad.
“I can’t play them all together of course, you need some experience, but every one of them – if you put them in a side with older players – they’ll bring energy and a smile, and they bring quality. So I’m happy with them also.”
One academy product who signed a three-year contract after speaking to Bilic is Harper.
The 19-year-old was offered a chance to join Tottenham Hotspur, but he chose to stay at the Baggies.
“I had a chat with him and his agent and I really think it was a no-brainer for a player who is looking forward to having a good path, a good opportunity and platform to show himself long-term in his career,” said Bilic.
“He knows the club, he knows the area. Last year he played a reasonable amount of games, a lot maybe for his first season.
"It was not hard for me to persuade him because the cards were in my hands.
“It was his priority to think about his career, and this is the best place for him to be.”
Albion are in Spain all week, culminating in their first public pre-season friendly of the summer on Saturday, when they face Villareal at 7pm in La Nucia, five miles outside of Benidorm.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” said Bilic. “I expected it but the guys have been unbelievable, the way they are doing it. There’s been a tempo from the first day and a seriousness about it.
“So far so good. We are exactly where we wanted to be in terms of sessions, in terms of conditioning, in terms of numbers.
"The guys are a bit heavy but it’s good for this stage of pre-season. I’m really happy with the lads so far.”