David Button (gk) Brighton; Cedric Kipre (def) Wigan; Matheus Pereira (mid) Sporting Lisbon – loan made permanent; Grady Diangana (mid) West Ham – loan made permanent; Oliver Burke (mid) Alaves – end of loan;
Callum Robinson (sp) (mid) Sheffield United – end of loan; Filip Krovinovic (sp) (mid) Benfica – end of loan; Nathan Ferguson (sp) (def) Crystal Palace; Ali Al Habsi (sp) (gk) released; Lee Peltier (sp) (def) released; Garreth Barry (sp) (mid) released; Chris Brunt (sp) (mid) released; Jonathan Bond (gk) released; Alex Palmer (sp) (gk) Lincoln City – on loan;
WBA finished second in The Championship last season to secure direct promotion, but this was done in far from convincing fashion and mostly luck and mistakes from others saw the Baggies promoted. That said, under Bilic the team played a modern fast-pace football and, especially at home, the results for most of last year were very good.
The off-season had been pretty tough so far with no major new signings made and at the same time 9 players already leaving. The only notable incoming moves were making wingers Diangana and Pereira’s stays permanent, newly signed Button and Kipre seen only as deep cover options. Veteran inner midfielders Barry and Brunt retired, which removes 2 very wise heads from the squad. Right now WBA have just 20 field players in their senior ranks and this is simply not enough.
Coach Bilic will desperately search for cheap quality new signings in the weeks to come and only after seeing what business he could conduct the outlook for the new season will be clearer. Right now it looks as if the looming start to the campaign will come way too soon for WBA and catch them unprepared.
The team’s physicality and ability to push the tempo when in possession are amongst their main strengths. The team spirit is also very high, with Bilic compensating the lack of individual qualities with regular rally-speeches that seem to work for the Baggies well.
The lack of depth and quality in the squad right now are seen as major issues. Most of the current players have history of failures at Premier League level in the past and not only the squad is very small but those in it carry baggage from disappointing previous campaigns at this level.
Survival is the only goal, but right now doesn’t seem to have the squad or the depth to achieve it. Transfer activity will determine if this changes.