Why Birmingham City have solved a key issue with a deal for Jeremie Bela
As per the report, the 26-year-old has been a long-term target for the Blues and was also the subject of interest from EFL Championship rivals Nottingham Forest (h/t Nottingham Post) back in the summer. However, a move never materialized back then due to Bela’s contract row at his former club.
Despite Albacete claiming that they had triggered an extension clause in his contract, Bela was adamant that he was a free-agent before the Spanish second-tier outfit eventually decided to let him go. (h/t BBC)
That opened the door for Birmingham City to snap him up on a free transfer and the Blues have moved quickly to secure his signature. As a free agent coming through the door, Jeremie Bela would be eligible to take the field for the Midlands giants immediately and there shouldn’t be any problems of registering him outside of the transfer window.
Born in Melun, France, to parents of Angolan descent, Bela played for Evry, Clairefontaine and Lens at the youth level before turning professional with Lens in Ligue 2.
Bela thereafter completed a move to Dijon in 2014 and went on to score 12 goals in 81 appearances across all competitions in the top two divisions in France before moving across the continent to join Spanish second-tier club Albacete in 2017.
The 26-year-old’s stint in Spain proved to be a fruitful one, as he registered 19 goals in 71 appearances and made a big impact.
Bela’s mediocre end product has come under scrutiny on some occasions over the years but he has carved out a reputation as a useful versatile right-footed attacker.
To that end, the arrival of Jeremie Bela could go a long way towards solving a nagging issue in a key area of the pitch for manager Pep Clotet.
Despite the new manager bringing in the likes of Alvaro Gimenez, Fran Villalba, Josh McEachran, Dan Crowley, Ivan Sunjic and Jefferson Montero, the Blues have been crying out for a direct and pacey attacker capable of running at defenders and creating space for others to pull the strings.
Lukas Jutkiewicz has continued in his natural target man role in Clotet’s preferred 4-4-2 formation and has found the four times but the lack of a pacey attacker to play off his shoulders and run behind defences has left a big hole in Birmingham City’s attack.
Kerim Mrabti and Gimenez have failed to make much of an impact partnering Jutkiewicz up top as a part of a front two and that is exactly where someone like Jeremie Bela could possibly come handy and add that much-needed cutting edge to their attack.
Birmingham City have been crying out for a new striker after managing a meagre return of 16 goals in 16 league games and Bela could be the one to help them achieve a much better goalscoring record.
The Blues are currently placed 13th in the standings, just three points off the playoff spots, and they might well find themselves climbing up the table and rubbing shoulders with the playoff hopefuls if Bela hits the ground running and makes an instant impact in the Championship.
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The 26-year-old comes through the door as a player in the right age bracket for Pep Clotet. While his past exploits do not look overly impressive in terms of goal returns, Bela’s tally of 12 goals for Albacete last season suggests a change in fortunes and something for the City fans to look forward to.
Suffice to say, Birmingham City’s move for the former Ligue 1 star could pay off handsomely in the coming months.