Why West Brom loaning out Rekeem Harper in January would make sense
The 19-year-old looked set for an exit from West Midlands all throughout the summer but he eventually snubbed widespread interest from several other clubs to pledge his future to West Brom with a new three-year deal until the summer of 2022.
Slaven Bilic, who took over the reins from caretaker manager James Shan this past summer, looked prepared to include Harper in his plans for the ongoing season but things have gone downhill for the highly-rated teenager ever since his new contract.
Having clocked up 17 appearances in the Championship en route to the Baggies’ surge to the playoffs the last term, Harper still hasn’t received a substantial role in the playing XI this time around.
It has already been four months into the ongoing campaign and the 19-year-old is still awaiting his first league start for West Brom.
Harper’s only involvement in the starting XI came way back in August in a 2-1 EFL Cup defeat against Millwall while a 6-minute cameo against Nottingham Forest on the opening day of the season continues to be his only appearance in the Championship so far this season.
As a matter of fact, the talented starlet has been completely frozen out of the first-team fold by Bilic, with Harper failing to make a single matchday squad in the Championship since the second game of the campaign.
Romaine Sawyers, who came through the door at the Hawthorns from Championship rivals Brentford this past summer, has established himself as an undisputed starter in central midfield alongside Jake Livermore, with the duo playing a key role in the Baggies’ surge to the top of the standings in the second-tier.
With both Sawyers and Livermore featuring in nearly all of West Brom’s league fixtures so far, Chris Brunt is yet to earn himself a single start in the Championship under Bilic. Gareth Barry, 38, who rejoined the Baggies earlier in the year after recovering from his injury, has also been restricted to a solitary cameo so far.
To put things into perspective, Rekeem Harper is very unlikely to get regular minutes under his belt if he stays put at West Brom. Moving out on loan during the mid-season trading period in January could be a fair settlement for all parties involved.
With Sawyers, Livermore, Brunt and Barry all ahead of him in the pecking order at the moment, it would be a real surprise if the 19-year-old’s situation were to change in the second half of the campaign.
That he has even failed to make the matchday squads for so many games lie testament to his position in the pecking order under Bilic.
Ironically, the Croatian gaffer has not hesitated to offer some of the other youngsters at the club a chance to prove their worth, with academy graduate Nathan Ferguson already evolving into a hot property in the Championship after a string of impressive displays in his debut season.
West Ham loan starlet, Grady Diangana, has progressed by leaps and bounds under the charismatic guidance of Bilic while another homegrown starlet Kyle Edwards has also enjoyed considerable playtime in the Championship.
Constantly warming the benches and playing with the U23s isn’t going to work wonders for his development. Given that Harper has the potential to reach great heights in his career, the Baggies need to ensure that he plays regularly, preferably on loan.
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Suffice to say, West Brom arranging a loan move for Rekeen Harper could work out well for all parties involved.