West Brom are on the verge of signing striker Mbaye Diagne on loan from Galatasaray, with a view to make the transfer permanent.
Sam Allardyce has spoken extensively about his desire to get in a stronger, more central striker, and Diagne certainly seems to fit the bill.
Here, we take a look at how Diagne might help Albion survive relegation this season.
Who is Mbaye Diagne?
The Senegalese striker broke into the football mainstream after making a name for himself amongst prominent football circles — this culminated in Diagne being signed by the then-Juventus manager, Antonio Conte, in 2013.
Diagne was sent on several loan spells, mainly to Belgium and China, and after impressing on loan for Chinese side Újpest, he moved to fellow Chinese side Tianjin TEDA.
Diagne registered 15 goals and six assists in 44 league appearances for the side, which eventually earned him a move to Turkish side Kasimpaşa. It was in the Turkish league that the forward seriously made a name for himself.Embed from Getty Images
In his first season for Kasimpaşa, Diagne scored 12 goals and two assists in 17 performances; in the following season, he scored 20 goals and 2 assists in the first 20 games of the season. It was this impressive stint that earned him a move to Turkish giant Galatasaray.
He continued his form at Galatasaray for the reason of the season, registering 10 goals and one assist in 12 appearances.
Despite his impressive form, the striker was sent out on loan to Belgian side Club Brugge. Diagne still managed an impressive four goals in six appearances.
Ultimately, Galatasaray recognised Diagne’s talent, and he has repaid their faith this season: in 15 appearances, the striker has nine goals.
What will Diagne bring to Albion?
Diagne has been remarkably consistent across the course of his career, averaging 0.6 goals per game. More impressively, he appears to have only improved with every step-up he has faced: his best performances have come during his spells at regular European sides Kasimpaşa, Galatasaray and Club Brugge.
The Premier League is undoubtedly a big step-up from the Turkish league, despite Diagne’s Europa League, Champions League and international experience.
But if his career trajectory is anything to go by, there is every reason to think that Diagne will take the Premier League in his stride.Embed from Getty Images
The Senegalese striker will not have much time to waste, since Albion are in a dire position. It could be argued that the club has no recognised centre-forward; Karlan Grant and Callum Robinson operate more as inside forwards, whereas Hal Robson-Kanu is also more effective playing off the striker.
Diagne’s profile suggests he will suit the Premier League, however: at nearly 6’3, his physical presence is immense and his hold-up play regularly brings wider players into the game.
Diagne does like to drop deep and link up the play, but the majority of his movement comes inside the penalty area, where he is most threatening in-front of goal.
As per SofaScore, the striker’s average rating for this season is 6.83; by comparison, Grant’s sits at 6.53, Robinson’s at 6.69 and Robson-Kanu’s at 6.45. Before leaving for QPR, Charlie Austin’s sat at 6.52.
Based on these ratings, Diagne will not have to do much to improve on our current options up front.
Big Sam’s previous spells at clubs on the brink have always improved after the introduction of two to three new signings; Robert Snodgrass’ signing already appears to be a shrewd one, with his Premier League quality and experience coming to the fore in the Black Country derby.
If Diagne can have a similar effect to Snodgrass and replicate the form that has earned him his move to the top of the English league, Big Sam’s survival blueprint might just work one last time.