In West Bromwich Albion’s third season back in the Championship, an assault on the play-offs is looking likely.
The Baggies are currently level on points with sixth-place Sunderland after 16 matches played, having won three of their last four matches, including a resounding 3-1 victory over immediate top-six contenders, Hull City.
If Carlos Corberan’s side are to improve upon their previous tenth and ninth-place finishes in the second tier, respectively, the club will need to strengthen in the January transfer window to get the edge over their rivals.
Since Corberan arrived at the club, Marcelo Bielsa’s former assistant at Leeds United has deployed an easy-on-the-eye possession-based style.
With this in mind, he could use the January transfer window as an opportunity to bolster his squad with players who buy into this way of playing.
Here’s what a predicted West Brom XI could look like after the January transfer window is complete…
GK – Alex Palmer
West Brom’s defence in the Championship is the joint-third best with only 17 goals conceded and goalkeeper Alex Palmer’s heroic shot-stopping has made a huge contribution to that statistic.
The 27-year-old has kept the most clean sheets in the division (7) and that outstanding form is unlikely going to see him dropped for youngster Joshua Griffiths anytime soon.
RB – Darnell Furlong
An ever-present at right-back under Carlos Corberan, the former Queens Park Rangers youth product has featured in every one of their matches so far and rarely puts a foot wrong.
He’s someone who is incredibly strong in the tackle and difficult to beat in one vs one’s, making the most interceptions in the Baggies squad (1.6).
CB – Kyle Bartley
At the age of 32, his experience at commanding a back line is crucial to West Brom’s play-off hopes.
CB – Cedric Kipre
Cedric Kipre is one of the first names on Corberan’s team sheet and his monstrous defensive work speaks volumes of his talents. He’s made the most tackles per game (1.9), clearances (3.9) and second most interceptions in the West Brom squad, as per Sofascore.
Such form has kept the talented Semi Ajayi out the side and that is likely to continue.
LB – John Tolkin
Currently at MLS side New York Red Bulls, left-back John Tolkin has been linked with a winter move to the Hawthorns along with Sheffield United, as per MLS transfers.
The 21-year-old could potentially replace Conor Townsend on the left side of defence and offer more of an attacking threat having chalked up an impressive 11 assists in 36 appearances in 2023.
RM – Grady Diangana
One of the most technically gifted players in the Championship, the fleet-footed wide player is irreplaceable on the right flank for the Baggies having scored two, assisted three and averaged more successful dribbles (1.8) per game than any other West Brom player this term.
CM – Okay Yokuslu
A tackling machine and midfield destroyer, Yokuslu has featured in every match so far this season and for as long as he averages 5.9 balls recovered, 1.3 interceptions and a pass completion of 86%, the 29-year-old is undroppable.
CM – Callum Styles
According to TEAMtalk, West Brom are among several Premier League and Championship clubs interested in landing Barnsley’s midfield dynamo, Callum Styles.
The 23-year-old – who has three goals and one assist this season in League One – boasts the energy and dynamism to play in Corberan’s system and could form a strong partnership with Yokuslu.
LM – Matt Phillips
The electric winger, who scored in the winger against Hull, has been ever-present down the left flank for the Baggies this term, whether that’s as a left midfielder in a three-at-the-back system or as a winger in a 4-4-2.
Phillips is one of many elder statesmen in Corberan’s side at 32 and the Englishman has scored three and assisted twice in 16 appearances.
CAM – Jed Wallace
On his day, Wallace is one of the best creative midfielders in the Championship, occupying pockets of space and hurting teams with his exquisite passing range.
His creativity has been instrumental in the final third for West Brom, creating more big chances (4) and recording the joint-most assists (3) out of anyone in the squad.
ST – Ben Brereton Diaz
Attacking midfielder John Swift, who is currently out injured, is the club’s top scorer with six goals this term, however, Corberan is eyeing up a move for a player who would improve their firepower in the final third.
According to TEAMtalk, West Brom are ‘keeping tabs’ on Ben Brereton Diaz, who posted 16 goals in the second tier for Blackburn Rovers last term and has struggled since making a move to Villarreal in the summer, failing to score in 12 appearances for the LaLiga side.
Previously hailed for his “extraordinary” work rate by former Rovers boss, Tony Mowbray, the Chilean international could help fire the Baggies to promotion in the second half of the season.