Barely missing out on Belgium’s World Cup team hasn’t cost Sébastien Pocognoli a chance to move to the Premier League. On Saturday, West Bromwich Albion announced the 26-year-old has signed a three-year deal with the West Midlands club, with the left back moving for an undisclosed fee from Hannover in the German Bundesliga.
Pocognoli had been named to Beligum’s provisional squad for this summer’s World Cup before missing out on the trip to Brazil. Now, after two years in Germany, the fullback joins new manager Alan Irvine’s squad, becoming the team’s fourth signing of the summer.
Head coach Alan Irvine said: “Sébastien is an experienced left-back who has played at a high level for many years.“After being named in Belgium’s provisional World Cup squad, he just missed out on Brazil, mainly because he hadn’t played enough games towards the end of the season.“But he’s joined us with a real hunger to prove himself at Albion and get back into the international set-up.“We’ve done our due diligence on Sébastien in terms of people who have worked with him, including Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas.“You make your own mind up about a player’s ability from watching him play but you put these calls in to find out about their personality. The feedback on Sébastien was very positive.”
West Brom have already added Joleon Lescott and Chris Baird in defense as well as Craig Gardner in midfield, but with Liam Ridgewell’s departure creating a hole at left back, Pocognoli could be in line to claim a starting spot. Amongst the other defenders currently in West Brom’s senior squad, it’s unclear who else would be in line for full-time duty after a season in which Ridgewell made 33 starts.
Over the course of two years at Hannover, Pocognoli made 30 appearances, 27 of which were starts. Before moving to Germany, the 5’11” defender spent three years with Standard Leige, returning to Belgium after spending three seasons in the Dutch Eredivisie with AZ Alkmaar.
In the Bundesliga, Pocognoli was a decent back who failed to stand out, perhaps a good description if you’re looking for a steady option. Replacing a serviceable if unspectacular player, Pocognoli may prove a decent choice, depending on how he adjusts to the Premier League. With his fee undisclosed, it’s impossible to say whether this is a good or bad deal for West Brom.
Regardless, defense is an area that must be addressed if the Baggies are to avoid another relegation battle. Among clubs that survived last season, only Newcastle and Sunderland conceded more goals.
Lescott should be a major upgrade, while Baird’s return to the first division carries more doubts. And while Pocognoli did earn regular time for a mid-table club in Germany, that’s no guarantee he’ll be able to replace Ridgewell at The Hawthorns.