Why West Brom should consider a permanent deal for Chris Willock
According to Express & Star, West Brom are weighing up the possibility of securing a permanent transfer for Chris Willock, who is currently on loan at the Hawthorns from Portuguese heavyweights Benfica.
The 21-year-old, who was once on the books of Arsenal, is yet to make a single first-team appearance for West Brom under Slaven Bilic this term but that hasn’t prevented the Baggies from considering a permanent deal.
Willock has even failed to make the 18-man squad for most of the club’s Championship games so far. In fact, his only involvement came in the 2-1 defeat at the hands of Millwall in the EFL Cup back in August.
Despite failing to break into Bilic’s plans in the senior ranks, Willock has been a regular fixture for West Brom’s U23 side ever since his arrival in the summer.
The 21-year-old has accumulated impressive returns of 3 goals and 4 assists in 7 appearances to guide the U23s to 5th position in the Premier League 2 Division 2 standings.
Had it not been for the stellar displays of Matheus Pereira, West Ham loanee Grady Diangana and Kyle Edwards, Willock might have had his fair share of opportunities.
Express & Star understands that the loan agreement includes an option to make the move permanent for what has been described as a ‘reasonable’ fee by the Baggies. The exact amount is yet to be officially revealed though.
Born in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, Chris Willock rose through the youth ranks of Arsenal and made his first-team debut for the Gunners in a League Cup tie against Nottingham Forest in the 2016-17 season before departing for Benfica in the summer of 2017.
Despite racking up decent returns of 14 goals and 9 assists in 64 appearances for Benfica’s ‘B’ team in the second-tier, Willock is yet to make his first-team debut.
Realistically, it would be unfair to judge Willock based on his failure to break into the first-team at the Hawthorns this season, given the abundance of attacking talent already at Bilic’s disposal.
At 21, Willock is approaching a stage in his career where he needs to settle down in order to make strides towards fulfilling his potential.
That he is still devoid of any significant professional experience at the highest level is certainly a red flag in his development curve but the Baggies should not forget about his time at Arsenal.
Bilic has shown his proficiency over the years when it comes to blooding youngsters and backing their abilities and Willock, who is capable of playing out wide on either flank and also through the centre in a No. 10 role behind the striker, certainly looks like a player in the right age bracket for the club.
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With that in mind, the Baggies should not hesitate to sign him up permanently as a part of their long-term plans moving forward under the stewardship of Bilic.