Mulumbu's new deal sign of club's ambition

Posted by Matthew Evans

Alex Livesey/Getty ImagesYoussuf Mulumbu's re-signing gives West Brom fans hope the club may be able to attract higher-quality players.

The news that Youssuf Mulumbu has signed a new extended contract at West Brom will be music to the ears of most Albion fans. It seems every summer that Mulumbu is linked with a move away from the Hawthorns and that is testimony to the level of performances he puts in for the Baggies on a consistent basis.

Initially joining the club on loan in January 2009, Mulumbu has established himself as a key player under all the coaches he has played under from Tony Mowbray all the way through to current coach Steve Clarke, playing 160 games and scoring 13 goals.

The discovery of Mulumbu is a prime example of West Brom's outstanding scouting network, who plucked him from the reserves of Paris-Saint Germain initially on loan before signing him permanently in the summer for a mere 175,000 pounds. If Mulumbu was to be sold now, he’d easily be worth over 10 million.

Last season more than any proved just how vital Mulumbu is to Albion, particularly with the formation Clarke plays, which is why tying down the DR Congo international to a new contract was always going to be one of the most important deals of the summer.

Mulumbu is arguably the most irreplaceable player in the West Brom squad because of the unique qualities he brings to central midfield. While the likes of Chris Brunt, James Morrison and Graham Dorrans are talented in their own right, they simply don't have the attributes to perform the same box-to-box role Mulumbu does.

Mulumbu has a fantastic engine, driving forward from a deeper midfield role to support the attacks, yet still being the first man back to support Claudio Yacob should the move break down. While his goal tally has been down the past couple of seasons after scoring seven in his first full Premier League season, his contribution to West Brom's attack should not be downplayed.

His ability to break up play and win the ball back is also very good, which aids the Baggies in implementing their counter-attacking style. Another area where Mulumbu excels is bringing the ball out of defence; he is often the man who drives West Brom after receiving the ball in his own half.

The midfield combination of Yacob and Mulumbu was was vital West Brom's success, particularly in the outstanding run of form the club was in from the start of the season through to November, where the pair hardly missed a game. Their styles complement each other perfectly -- Yacob can win the ball back and keep Albion’s passing game ticking over, while Mulumbu can be the one who hassles and closes down the opposition before adding momentum to the attacking game when given the ball, often by Yacob.

Of course, Mulumbu isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. He is still prone to getting the wrong side of his man and giving away fouls in dangerous areas, while his passing is also inconsistent. He is capable of playing a delicate little through-ball or switch to the wings, but is equally as likely to put a simple pass straight out of play.

He does also suffer from the occasional mad moment, such as getting sent off last season for kicking the ball at Gary O’Neil, who made an innocuous foul on Mulumbu in the last minute of West Ham's 3-1 victory.

One of the more intriguing things to emerge from the signing was Mulumbu's reaction afterward, saying the club was matching his ambitions and that he thinks “the club will sign some more players.” There is no doubt that Mulumbu would have had the opportunity to move on in the near future -- his displays for Albion have seen several clubs linked with the midfielder.

The interview suggests to me the potential signings being lined up by the Baggies are of a similar ilk to Nicolas Anelka in that Albion are looking at players of a higher quality then they ever have before and this can only be good news for everyone involved at the club, especially fans.

Though the players may be of a higher quality, it doesn’t mean West Brom will have to break the bank for them in terms of transfer fees, but wages are likely to be higher than any previously offered by the club. This should satisfy anyone who talks about the “ambition” of West Brom, or lack of it, depending on what view you take.

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