Zuberbuhler joins Baggies as Gera tries to leave

July 14, 2006

West Brom today signalled their intention to make their stay in the Coca-Cola Championship a brief one by signing Switzerland goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbuhler and underlining their determination to hang onto stars like Zoltan Gera.

The Baggies have completed a deal with Basle to sign 35-year-old Zuberbuhler on a two-year contract, having earlier rejected a transfer request from Gera submitted by the Hungarian's agent.

By rejecting various offers for their top names - including a £10million joint bid from Wigan for Gera, Nathan Ellington and Curtis Davies - Albion are clearly trying to keep their Premiership squad intact.

Zuberbuhler's arrival provides manager Bryan Robson with two quality goalkeepers, although Poland international Tomasz Kuszczak has been linked with a move to Manchester United.

'We needed another goalkeeper to compete with Tomasz,' said Robson.

'He is number one with Switzerland and he was rated as one of the top couple of goalkeepers in the World Cup.

'It is up to Tomasz and him to challenge for a place.'

Zuberbuhler has been capped 44 times by Switzerland and did not concede a goal at the World Cup in Germany.

He began his career with Zurich-based club Grasshoppers before moving to Basle in 1999 and spent the first half of the 2000-01 season on loan at German side Bayer Leverkusen.

Meanwhile, Gera's agent submitted the request to Albion, which was 'rejected out of hand' today.

A statement on the club's official website www.wba.co.uk read: 'Albion have rejected out of hand a transfer request from Zoltan Gera.

'This is in keeping with the Baggies' strategy not to sell any of the key members of the first-team squad.'

West Brom have taken disciplinary action against Jason Koumas after the midfielder failed to turn up for pre-season training.

The Wales international was granted permission to report later than the rest of the squad after undergoing two dental operations last week.

Albion also arranged a clear-the-air-meeting with Koumas and his representative on Monday, to help the player re-integrate into the Baggies squad as smoothly as possible after he spent last season on loan at Cardiff.

Koumas told the club on Monday he wanted the meeting to be rescheduled for Tuesday but he then failed to appear and left his agent to conduct talks on his behalf.

A spokesman said: 'This has left the club with no alternative but to take disciplinary action against Koumas for this week's no-show.

'The player has now been told he must report for pre-season training by no later than Monday or face further disciplinary action.'