It's pretty hard to believe that the transfer window doesn't actually open until July 1st when you consider the number of deals that have already been done and the amount of money that has already been spent.
Alongside the confirmed deals, there is of course plenty of gossip/rumours regarding every club’s potential targets going into the transfer window. West Brom are no different, with a number of names being linked with the club. Steve Clarke has already said he expects little business to be done this month, with Albion only making one signing in June last year, which was Ben Foster on a permanent deal.
Something similar may happen with Goran Popov, as Albion are in talks with his parent club over a transfer fee for the Macedonian left back. In this blog, I'll look at some of the names being linked to the club, what they'd bring and whether there is a chance they could join the club.
This is one position where West Brom could certainly do with some additions. Billy Jones showed some good form towards the back end of the season, particularly going forward, but question marks still remain over his defensive abilities and whether he is a first choice Premier League right back. Steven Reid's future remains uncertain, he could yet sign a new deal with the club but even if he does, Albion will still need another right back because of Reid's poor injury record.
A couple of names have been linked to the club in this position, the first one being Danny Simpson who has been released by Newcastle. Simpson struggled for games in the 2nd half of the season at Newcastle after the signing of Mathieu Debuchy, only making 19 appearances last campaign. Albion have looked at Simpson before but I don't believe he is a significant improvement on Billy Jones. Add in Simpson's recent tendency to be more front page news than back page and I would say a deal for him is unlikely.
Chris Baird seems like a far more likely option, particularly as Albion were close to signing him in January only for the deal to collapse. Baird is what could be described as a typical West Brom signing. He is available on a free transfer, has plenty of Premier League experience and is also someone who is capable of playing a number of positions, which would certainly be appealing to head coach Steve Clarke because of the smaller squad West Brom operate with.
The wide midfield positions have been identified by every West Brom fan and the club as one of the main areas that Albion need to strengthen. Surprisingly, very few names have been linked to West Brom thus far. One of those names is Scott Sinclair and that is the type of signing that Albion need to be looking at. Sinclair is again a proven Premier League performer in a position that West Brom need to strengthen in, with his style of play very similar to that of Peter Odemwingie, who is near-certain to leave the club in the summer.
Of course, there are a couple of potential issues with any deal for Sinclair. The main one is the fee, as West Brom would probably have to break their transfer record to sign Sinclair, which could prove problematic because of the other areas in which they need to make additions. Also, a player of Sinclair's calibre is going to attract a lot of attention from other Premier League clubs, which is where factors such as wages or location will come into play.
Alongside Sinclair, Nathan Redmond of Birmingham City has also been linked with West Brom. I've liked the look of Redmond every time I've seen him play, but he is still young and raw whilst Birmingham would also demand a decent fee for someone completely unproven in the Premier League, which could scupper any deal for the England Under-21 winger.
As is the norm with most Premier League clubs, the biggest focus at West Brom has to be in the forward area. Currently Albion have only 2 senior forwards on their books, Shane Long and Markus Rosenberg, as Marc Antoine Fortune has been released whilst Romelu Lukaku has returned to Chelsea from his loan spell at The Hawthorns, with Jose Mourinho looking set to keep the young Belgian at the club.
There have been a variety of names linked to West Brom, with players from both the Premier League and abroad being talked about as potential additions. Carlton Cole and Franco Di Santo have both been linked with moves to the Baggies on free transfers. Any deal for Cole has already been ruled out by the local media, but there does seem to be an interest in Di Santo. It is obvious Di Santo would not be brought in as a first choice, but more as a replacement for Fortune. Di Santo does lead the line well but his goal record is on a par with that of Fortune's, which was very poor. Steve Clarke would have worked with Di Santo at Chelsea and another thing in Di Santo's favour is that he is seven years younger than Fortune.
Alongside these lower fee additions, players who come with a larger price tag have also been mentioned as possible options for West Brom. One of these is Dieumerci Mbokani of Andelercht, but any move for him seems to be off as the Congolese forward looks set to sign for Dynamo Kiev. With Anderlecht wanting around 12 million Euros for the forward, a move was always unlikely because at 28-years-old, there would be no re-sale value - something which Chairman Jeremy Peace likes to take into consideration. Regardless of the fee, Mbonkani has struggled previously when moving away from the Belgian League, which would make any move a big risk.
The other two bigger names that West Brom have been credited with are both from the Dutch League - Ola Toivonen and Wilfried Bony. Toivonen is a player that Albion have looked at in previous seasons but have always been priced out of a move. But with only a year remaining on his contract, the fee for the Swedish international looks set to drop dramatically. Toivonen certainly presents an interesting option, particularly as he does offer some versatility. Whilst being traditionally seen as a forward, Toivonen is also capable of playing a slightly deeper role behind the striker, which James Morrison currently fills. But as is the norm with forward players, West Brom face competition for Toivonen's signature should they pursue him, with Norwich one of the clubs credited with interest.
Bony is the most exciting name to be linked with Albion. The Ivorian forward has a quite amazing goal record at Vitesse Arnhem, with 46 goals in 65 games for the club. Obviously, this isn't always a guarantee of success, you only have to look at Alfonso Alves' record in the Dutch league and then his record at Middlesbrough. Another drawback is that Bony's club have set a £10 million asking price for Bony. Even taking negotiation into account, Albion would have to smash their transfer record to afford him. Unlike Mbokani, Bony will have a re-sale value as he is only 24 years old which could aid the likelihood of any move for Bony.