According to the Express & Star, West Brom have completed the signing of French teenager Cheikh Diaby, who has put pen to paper on professional terms at the Hawthorns until the end of the ongoing campaign, with the Baggies the holding option of extending his stay by a further twelve months.
The 19-year-old striker, who rose through the ranks of the widely acclaimed Le Havre youth system in his homeland, was released by his boyhood club earlier in the summer upon the expiry of his contract.
Diaby was linked with a move to Spanish giants Valencia following his release from Le Havre but when that fell through, the youngster decided to try his luck as a trialist at West Brom, the Express & Star understands.
The teenager eventually went on to impress manager Slaven Bilic and has already earned himself a new lease of life in a bid to kick start his career away from his homeland for the first time.
Diaby didn’t make a senior professional appearance for Le Havre but he will be expected to make the transition to senior men’s football sooner rather than later at his new club.
Given that he was a free agent in the market, West Brom should have no problems in registering the youngster outside of the transfer window, although he is expected to initially link up with the U-23s in the Premier League 2 Division 2 before staking a claim for a senior call-up.
To put things into perspective, Cheikh Diaby is pretty much an unknown entity to the fans in West Midlands but the acquisition of a highly-rated youngster for free definitely looks like a step in the right direction and one that could potentially pay rich dividends moving forward.
Taking into account the highly competitive nature, as well as the gruelling physicality, of the EFL Championship, the 19-year-old’s lack of previous experience on English shores does make him somewhat of a gamble.
Indeed, there is hardly any guarantee that he will be able to make the step up to the first-team at the Hawthorns at this stage of his career and West Brom are well within their rights to look at him as one for the future.
Bilic has already made it clear that he is not hesitant to rely on young players if they are capable of doing a job for the team, as exemplified by the involvement of Grady Diangana, Nathan Ferguson and Kyle Edwards and Cheikh Diaby is also likely to get his opportunity to impress if he hits the ground running for the U-23s.
He is expected to face tough competition for a place up top, though, with highly-rated academy prospects Jamie Soule and Rayhan Tullouch firing all guns blazing in the Premier League 2 Division 2. However, given his talent and potential, the 19-year-old certainly deserves a fair crack of the whip to prove his credentials at his new club.
West Brom have been forced to rely on the likes of Diangana and Matheus Pereira for the goals, despite bringing in Charlie Austin and Kenneth Zohore from Southampton and Cardiff City respectively in the summer and, with the existing strike force struggling to live up to the expectations, the door is certainly open for Cheikh Diaby to stake a claim for a place in the side.
However, Diaby has been offered a one-year contract with the option of a second year, meaning that he would need to acclimatise to his new surroundings as soon as possible if he is really serious about making the grade at the Hawthorns.
All in all, this looks like a smart piece of business for the Baggies and they might have plenty to cheer about if the 19-year-old manages to make an instant impact.
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