West Brom comment: Albion’s budget depends on whether or not stars stay

Albion’s transfer business is far from over – with the club still in need of multiple additions this summer.

Matheus Pereira of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)
Matheus Pereira of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)

But it’s fair to say the Baggies are currently at a crossroads when it comes to finalising their squad for the new campaign – with the funds they have available heavily dependant on the potential sales of Matheus Pereira and Sam Johnstone.

Back in June, chief executive Xu Ke – who is known as Ken – told supporters Albion have a ‘competitive’ budget for the 2021/22 campaign.

He also described the club’s funds as ‘healthy’. Those words, though, were chosen very carefully.

Finances in the Championship have been decimated because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last January, barely any clubs paid a fee during the transfer window.

And a large number of teams this summer are looking to sell their key assets in a bid to balance the books following the pandemic.

Because of the parachute payments they are receiving following their relegation from the Premier League, Albion are not in a position where they have to sell anybody.

But they will have to sell Pereira or Johnstone or both if they are to spend significant sums of money this summer.

Those departures, though, are far from certain.

Any other year it is likely a European side would enter the market for Pereira and be willing to pay the £25million/£30million Albion will be demanding for their Brazilian talisman.

Like Championship sides, though, European clubs are also struggling for cash because of the pandemic.

The market for Pereira has been dramatically reduced.

Johnstone, meanwhile, only has one year remaining on his deal.

Sam Johnstone.

And that means his suitors are likely to be reluctant to spend big on a player they can sign for free in 12 months’ time.

That was shown last week when West Ham tabled a bid that is understood to be just less than £6million for the goalkeeper.

That figure, quite frankly, is laughable for a player of Johnstone’s ability.

But according to reports, the Hammers aren’t willing to go any higher – with the Covid market ensuring they are instead considering a loan move for PSG’s Alphonse Areola, which gives them the option to buy him if he is successful.

Albion, then, are at a crossroads where they have to effectively have two lists of targets – depending on whether their key assets stay or go.

As it stands, you would imagine they still need to make a minimum of four more additions this summer.

They need a left-wing-back to compete with and provide cover for Conor Townsend.

They need another central midfielder.

And they probably need two central strikers.

It is not known how much of Albion’s ‘competitive’ budget still remains. You have to remember they have already paid £2million to land boss Valerien Ismael – with that fee sure to be one of the biggest outlays in the Championship this summer.

They will have also paid a significant signing on fee to free agent Alex Mowatt and they also probably paid a loan fee to sign Matt Clarke from Brighton.

Albion are likely to be able to make the additions they need by boxing clever with their transfer budget as it stands.

For example, they could make a move for someone like Famara Diedhiou, a striker who was reportedly interesting the Baggies before he joined Turkish side Alanyaspor on a free yesterday.

And if they got someone like him along with an exciting loan addition from the Premier League – Manchester City’s Liam Delap for example – they would have a strong front line.

The Baggies are also known to want to sign Chelsea’s Trevoh Chalobah who, despite having plenty of suitors won’t cost the earth. If they get three deals like that done and then use their remaining funds to sign a left wing-back, they will be able to go into the season with a strong squad that still includes Johnstone and Pereira.

Sam Johnstone of West Bromwich Albion. (AMA)

For many fans that will be more exciting then selling the star duo and splashing the cash this summer.

It’s a strategy that comes with risks, though, as it could lead to Johnstone departing for nothing next summer.

It’s also believed Pereira wants to leave – so is it really in Albion’s interests to keep hold of a player whose heart is elsewhere?

What is for certain is that time is starting to run out.

The Baggies begin their Championship campaign at Bournemouth in just over two weeks’ time.

As it stands, Pereira and Johnstone look destined to at least start the season at the club.

But the quicker their futures are resolved, the easier it will be for Albion to move forward with clarity.

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