In recent West Brom transfer news, the club has announced the signing of young Scottish winger Oliver Burke from German team RB Leipzig. The fee is believed to surpass the £13mil paid for Nacer Chadli, making it a West Brom transfer record. The fee is also a record amount for a Scottish player, surpassing the previous record which also belonged to Burke, when RB Leipzig paid Nottingham Forest a fee of £13mil a year ago.
Very happy to have joined WBA as you can see 😃 looking forward to starting my new journey in the Premier League! pic.twitter.com/3JSSilNQzl
— Oliver Burke (@OliverBurke55) August 25, 2017
Nationality: 5 Caps
Position: predominantly a right-sided midfielder/winger, can also play on the left or as a striker.
Transfer Fee: £15mil
Contract Length: 5 years
2016/17 League Stats: 5 starts (20 sub appearances) 1 goal (2 assists)
After the start Burke made last season at Nottingham Forest, interest in the young winger quickly grew. Many of the top clubs in the country took note but Burke opted to join RB Leipzig in Germany. The move was bold and unexpected. More than anything though the move showed he had an eye on his long-term development as Leipzig are known for their commitment to young players in both their transfer strategy and selection policy. Not only was the move brave but it also said a lot about Burke’s character and maturity.
Given the amount of talent coming out of Germany and the Bundesliga, you can also see the wider appear that Germany offers. The coaching and nurturing of youth is second to none at the moment. If anything it’s surprising more players don’t take advantage of the opportunities in Germany.
There is so much young talent in the academies and youth teams of Premiership sides which struggle to make an impact. Competition for places is tough whilst there’s a culture in England of preferring to buy the way out of trouble rather than introduce home-grown players. Maybe more should follow the likes of Burke’s lead and head abroad to help their development.
However everything didn’t entirely go to plan for Burke in Germany last season. He struggled to make much of an impact on the first-team with only 5 league starts all season. The team performed well above expectations all season as Leipzig finished 2nd, behind only Bayern. Those in possession of a starting place such as Sabitzer, Forsberg and Werner gave the manager, Ralph Hassenhuttl, no reason to change things. So it was difficult for Burke.
There were also suggestions from Germany that Burke didn’t progress as much as had hoped, especially tactically, which contributed to why they were happy to sell only 12 months later. The lack of starts probably didn’t help.
In this current, insane market the £15mil West Brom paid for Burke is no longer viewed as a major amount for a Premiership club. So despite it being a club record transfer deal, given Burke’s age, it’s probably accurate to say West Brom aren’t expecting immediate fireworks. Burke has no Premiership experience whilst he will have a few seasoned players between himself and the first-team this season.
- Matt Phillips has impressed since he joined from QPR and looks to have established himself as a first-team player.
- Jay Rodriguez, himself a new £12mil signing, also looks to have secured a position in the team, more often than not out wide.
- Chris Brunt can be used higher the up pitch although he has found himself as a left full-back more recently.
- James McClean is still a squad option.
- Not to mention Nacer Chadli who was one of West Brom’s best performers last season. The Belgian’s future is in doubt however due to an ongoing dispute with Tony Pulis.
In many respects the signing of Oliver Burke is a smart move. Things would have to go pretty disastrously for his value to drop significantly. Burke can improve considerably in future so there’s a stronger likelihood of his value increasing if anything. If eventually West Brom were to lose him, chances are they will make a decent profit. More importantly though, if Burke was to start realising his potential West Brom will have a very good player on their hands.
He has plenty of pace and with Matt Phillips, should suit the counter-attacking style of Pulis’ perfectly. However he will need to work on his all-round game to feature regularly. Pulis is one of the few managers who still prioritises the defensive aspects of the game and expects all of his players to contribute to this.
Burke will need to show more consistency and work-rate. Whilst offensively he still needs to works on his technical qualities and movement to make an impact in the Premiership.
It’s a decent move for Burke too. There may be a few players standing in his way but you wouldn’t say any are beyond Burke’s reach. He might struggle to assert himself on the first team picture this season but he should still be more than capable of getting good minutes and continuing with his development. It could be next season that we start seeing the best of Burke as he will be more familiar with how Pulis and West Brom work plus he will have a year of Premiership experience under his belt too.
You can understand why West Brom have taken a chance on Burke. I can’t think of many better opportunities in the market for a team like West Brom at the moment. With Burke’s potential, the rewards on and off the pitch could be big. If one of the big 5 or 6 come calling West Brom can expect a sizable profit. Young British talent often sells at a Premium.
Given his experience in Germany I’m not completely convinced Burke is going to set the Premiership on fire. Leipzig clearly think something must be missing. I’m sure he’s more than capable of becoming a good Premiership player. I’m just not convinced he is going to become a top player and find himself as an important player for a team challenging to be in the Champions League every season.
That said there’s no reason why he can’t become a very good player for West Brom and in a year or two play a serious role in taking them on a level or two.
What do you think, good prospect, good business? Or is Burke too unproven? Leave your comments below.