West Bromwich Albion

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Transfer rumor roundup: Maguire on record fee, Rondon to Newcastle

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We begin this post with a doozy.

This is just too much, but that’s the price you pay for English national team center backs in the Premier League.

Manchester United is said to be prepared to offer Leicester City a wild $113 million to bring Harry Maguire to Old Trafford, a bid almost $13 million more than Man City’s reported ceiling (itself an eyebrow-raiser).

Either fee would break the transfer record Liverpool set on Virgil Van Dijk, and just embarrass the $15 million Leicester spent to bring Maguire from Hull City two summers ago.

While the fee is insane, Maguire brings invaluable consistency in his performances and does have plenty of punch in the box on attacking corner kicks.

United was also said to be in on Wilfred Ndidi, and spending over $160 million on two players from the same club sure would say something. Do you think Brendan Rodgers prefers the players or the money?


Speaking of wacky transfer values…

Newcastle’s hopes of landing Salomon Rondon from West Bromwich Albion have been given a boost.

Why? Because Dwight Gayle‘s incredible Championship record has Slaven Bilic valuing the Newcastle man about as much as Rondon’s fee.

Gayle, 28, has twice scored 23 goals in a Championship season, once with Newcastle and once on loan to West Brom last season. He’s scored 7, 6, 3, and 5 goals in four Premier League campaigns.

Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Rondon has scored 9, 8, 7, and 11 top flight goals in four seasons between West Brom and Newcastle.

For their values to deliver a straight swap is something Rafa Benitez or whoever’s in charge of Newcastle by the end of summer will love deeply.

Bilic back in England at Championship side West Brom

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WEST BROMWICH, England (AP) Former Croatia coach Slaven Bilic is back in club management at second-tier team West Bromwich Albion in England.

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Bilic has been out of work since being fired by Saudi club Al-Ittihad in February, only five months into the job. Prior to that, he spent two-plus years at West Ham in the Premier League before being fired in November 2017.

West Brom lost in the League Championship playoffs last month and is preparing for a second season in the second tier.

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Bilic says “Albion have convinced me they want to return to the Premier League. Albion have a short-term project and a long project and they do not clash.”

Report: West Brom looks to snap up Hughton

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West Bromwich Albion is ready to turn to a promotion veteran in its bid to return to the Premier League.

Chris Hughton is in frame for the Hawthorns set, which controversially fired Darren Moore earlier this year with the club in fourth place. The Baggies bowed out of the Championship playoffs with a Tuesday loss to Aston Villa.

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Brighton and Hove Albion fired Hughton on Monday, the day after the Seagulls completed the Premier League season in 17th place. They were 10th after 15 match days but won just three more matches in skidding into a relegation campaign.

Should Hughton get the job, he could have a very different set of players from the group which made the playoffs. From Sky Sports:

Whilst Albion have no debt and no need to sell, we have been told there was a verbal agreement with a number of players who were relegated from the Premier League last year, that if the team did not win promotion at the first attempt, they would be allowed to leave this summer, assuming a suitable bid was tabled.

Hughton also led the Seagulls to the FA Cup semifinals, two years after guiding the club into the Premier League via a second place finish in the Championship. He’s also guided Newcastle to promotion and helped Birmingham City to a fourth place finish in the second tier.

Aston Villa beat West Brom in shootout to reach Wembley final

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Aston Villa moved one giant step closer to a return to the Premier League by topping local rivals West Bromwich Albion 4-3 on penalties in the EFL Championship promotion playoffs on Tuesday.

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West Brom erased what was a 2-1 deficit to begin the semifinal second leg. Away goals are not used as a tiebreaker in the Football League’s promotion playoffs, thus the two Birmingham sides were forced into a penalty shootout, where Jed Steer would atone for a nearly calamitous error early in the game and season full of similar blunders.

Villa were in England’s top tier from 1975 until suffering relegation in 2016; they fell to Fulham in last season’s promotion final at Wembley Stadium. West Brom, on the other hand, saw their eight-year run in the PL end this time last year.

Leeds United hold a 1-0 advantage over Derby County, heading home for Wednesday’s other semifinal second leg.

Craig Dawson scored the second leg’s only goal, a towering header from Mason Holgate‘s long throw-in, in the 29th minute.

Villa’s Tyrone Mings made a goal- and potentially season-saving block in the 53rd minute, after Steer gave the ball directly to West Brom’s Jacob Murphy, who took a touch toward goal and fired for the bottom corner, the ball destined for the inside netting. Mings recovered from out of nowhere — wide left, where he was an option for Steer to play the ball out — to get a foot in front of the ball and boot it away.

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Steer started the shootout by denying Holgate with ease, diving to his left and getting both hands behind the ball to keep it out. Conor Hourihane took the opportunity to put Villa ahead seconds later. Steer came up big once again, denying Ahmed Hegazi on West Brom’s second effort. Mile Jedinak‘s first touch after coming on late in extra time came at the penalty spot, and the Australian dispatched his effort as coolly as could be done.

Tosin Adarabioyo got West Brom on the board in round 3, but Jack Grealish restored the two-make advantage by sending Sam Johnstone the wrong way for the third straight penalty attempt. Kieran Gibbs nicked the inside Steer’s right-hand post in round 4, but by the grace of luck the ball found its way into the corner. Albert Adomah put Villa’s fourth attempt over the bar.

James Morrison hammered West Brom’s fifth past Steer, setting up on-loan Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham for the decisive penalty. It wasn’t the best penalty ever hit, as Johnstone got a trailing foot on the ball, but it had enough power behind it to sneak over the line and send Villa to Wembley.

Aston Villa comeback stuns West Brom in playoffs

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Aston Villa beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1 in their Championship playoff semifinal first leg on Saturday, as the home side launched a stunning late comeback at Villa Park.

The local derby swung in West Brom’s favor early on, as Dwight Gayle finished clinically but then a stunner from substitute Conor Hourihane was followed by a Tammy Abraham penalty kick moments later to send Villa Park wild.

To make matters worse for West Brom, their top goalscorer Gayle was sent off in the closing stages after a late challenge on Villa goalkeeper Jed Steer.

Villa or West Brom will play the winner of Leeds United or Derby County in the playoff final at Wembley on May 27 for a place in the Premier League.

After a fast start, West Brom went so close to opening the scoring, as Jay Rodriguez’s superb curling shot was tipped onto the crossbar by Steer.

At the other end Abraham sent an acrobatic effort just over, then Villa made a huge mistake and they were punished.

Glenn Whelan gave the ball away in a key area and Gayle pounced to smash home the opener at the Holte End to put West Brom 1-0 up. Villa struggled to get going again in the first half after that error, with West Brom dangerous on the break.

Abraham went close twice at the start of the second half as Villa pushed hard to get level with Jack Grealish leading the charge.

Villa eventually levelled 15 minutes from time as Hourihane smashed home a stunning strike with his left foot after Grealish found him unmarked 25 yards out.

It got even better for Villa moments later as Kieran Gibbs caught Grealish in the box and the home side were awarded a penalty kick.

Abraham stepped up to slot home the spot kick to give Villa a precious 2-1 lead ahead of the second leg at the Hawthorns on Tuesday.

However, Abraham did push over Mason Holgate in the box late on and was lucky to not concede a penalty kick.

And West Brom then made their task even tougher as their top goalscorer Gayle was shown a second yellow card for fouling Steer and will now miss the second leg.