‘Before you know it’ – Our Grady Diangana message to West Ham – Joseph Chapman
As Elton John and Kiki Dee once sang together, so we’ll repeat, with a footballing flavour: “West Ham United, don’t go breaking my heart.”
There might’ve been defensive deficiencies and question marks over the set-up, but West Brom’s front three were stealing the show week on week twelve months ago.
Dwight Gayle was up and running and Jay Rodriguez was joining the fun, while Harvey Barnes took your breath away.
Then Leicester City took Barnes himself away, in January, as desperate Claude Puel attempted to arrest a poor run of results and cling onto his job.
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It was eventually a decision that had a significant bearing on Albion’s campaign; that front three wasn’t the same as Jacob Murphy and Jefferson Montero attempted to fill the void.
Fast forward 12 months, and Albion are already in a near identical situation.
West Ham will have the space of a fortnight in the January transfer window – a recall clause very common in the deals involving two British clubs – to take Grady Diangana back to the London Stadium should they see fit to.
Just like with the Foxes in November and December last term, Baggies fans might be adopted Irons followers for the next couple of months; while Manuel Pellegrini’s side are picking up Premier League points, the likelihood of Diangana remaining for the campaign increases.
Diangana currently playing out of his skin isn’t helping matters, though; his parent club will be fully aware of his exploits, his four goals and three assists.
He may not have added to those statistics at Middlesbrough, but Diangana was comfortably Albion’s best performing out-field player and saw the whites of Dael Fry’s eyes on more than one occasion.
Some of the tricks he pulls off on the by-line, when surrounded and with his back to goal, are mesmerising.
A lightning quick terroriser of defenders, the 21-year-old has been a joy to watch this season.
Indeed Boro, his victims on Saturday, will rue their luck – they basically had him signed up before the Baggies intervened in the eleventh hour in the window, while Derby came all so close too.
From the moment he announced himself at Luton with a quick-fire, match winning brace, to his delightful chip against Blackburn, to his super-sub appearance in the win over Huddersfield and then the storming finish past Cardiff, Diangana has left his mark on the left hand side of Albion’s set-up.
He has constantly combined well with fellow loanee Matheus Pereira – mercifully a player Albion don’t have to sweat on the future of – and has attended to his defensive responsibilities with gusto.
If you win the ball off of Diangana, don’t rest in the knowledge that you have possession; he’ll be snapping at your heels before you know it.
Let’s assess the evidence.
Where will West Bromwich Albion finish in the 2019-20 season?
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They have Manuel Lanzini, Robert Snodgrass, Felipe Anderson, Pablo Fornals, Andriy Yarmolenko and Michail Antonio on their books, as well as young Nathan Holland.
They’re tenth in the top flight table, four points above the drop zone and three behind fifth placed Arsenal.
Much can happen in the next two months that affects Pellegrini’s thinking, but all connected with Albion will have everything crossed that nothing occurs which leads to a case of depressing deja vu.
Don’t break our hearts, Hammers.