Why Oliver Burke leaving West Brom to join Alaves looks like a fair settlement
According to BBC, West Brom youngster Oliver Burke has joined La Liga outfit Alaves on a season-long loan deal, with Baggies manager Slaven Bilic happy to allow the youngster to leave on a temporary basis in search of more regular minutes.
Having already loaned out young midfielders Jonathan Leko and Sam Field to Championship newcomers Charlton Athletic, West Brom also decided to send another highly-rated prospect Burke out on loan to Alaves, given that he was not a key part of the manager’s plans moving forward in the ongoing campaign.
A youth product of Nottingham Forest, Burke rose to prominence with a few dazzling displays at the City Ground, scoring 6 goals in 31 appearances before earning a big-money £13million move to Bundesliga side RB Leipzig in the summer of 2016.
However, in a dramatic sequence of events, the Scottish starlet returned to English football just after a single season in the German top-flight, with West Brom paying £15 million to secure the services of the versatile attacker.
Burke, though, is yet to live up to his potential at the Hawthorns after scoring only once in 21 appearances for the Baggies in all competitions.
He has found himself on the fringes of the first team more often than not and the youngster went out on loan north of the border to Scottish champions Celtic back in January in a bid to further his development.
The 22-year-old netted 4 goals in 14 appearances for the Hoops in the second half of the previous campaign and showed a fair bit of promise at Parkhead but that apparently wasn’t enough to convince new Baggies boss Slaven Bilic.
Burke played only a couple of cameos from the bench in West Brom’s Championship fixtures against Nottingham Forest and Millwall prior to his loan move, although he did start in the League Cup defeat to the Lions.
Those signs early in the campaign were enough to indicate that Bilic didn’t consider the 22-year-old one of the regular names on his teamsheet in the league and, while Burke could have played more minutes later on in the season, a move to Alaves does look like a fair settlement that should perfectly suit the interests of all parties involved.
To put things into perspective, it was always going to be difficult for Burke to stake a claim for a regular place in West Brom’s eleven, given the stiff competition for places at the Hawthorns and the club’s promotion hopes, and a loan stint at Alaves in the La Liga might allow him to play more regularly.
The youngster would have sensed an opportunity to cement his position in Bilic’s plans after Baggies lost star attackers, Jay Rodriguez and Dwight Gayle, before the start of the season.
However, despite his versatility to play up top and out wide on either flank, the arrival of new players like Kenneth Zohore, Grady Diangana, Charlie Austin, Filip Krovinovic, Matheus Pereira, Chris Willock and Romaine Sawyers pushed him down the pecking order and slammed the doors shut on all possibilities of challenging for a starting role.
Interestingly enough, though, Burke has been handed another golden opportunity to prove his mettle elsewhere and the chance to play in a highly technical league, such as the La Liga, should help him hone his skills in a better way and eventually mature as a footballer.
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All in all, West Brom will be hoping that he has no difficulties in settling down at his new club and a strong loan spell for the youngster could pave the way for a better role at his parent club in the years to come.