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West Bromwich Albion are eyeing a move for Leicester City midfielder Matty James, as per the reports from Daily Mail.
The 26-year old has endured a difficult couple of years following a cruciate ligament injury, but bounced back strongly last season away on loan at Barnsley and has impressed heavily in the Foxes’ pre-season games as well. This has peaked Baggies boss Tony Pulis’ interest in the midfielder and he wants to sign him up before the transfer window closes on August 31.
Pulis is under pressure to improve the club’s fortunes from last season, after a late slip up towards the end of the season saw them slip down a couple of rungs to 10th place, from 8th. West Brom have made three signings in the transfer market so far, with Jay Rodriguez arriving from Southampton, along with Yuning Zhang from Vitesse and Ahmed Hegazy on loan from Al Ahly.
However, a new central midfielder remains a top priority for the club, after they let go of former captain Darren Fletcher, who has joined Stoke City this summer. There have been a number of names linked with a move to the Hawthorns, and Leicester’s James has emerged as the latest target.
A former Manchester United academy player, James joined the Foxes in the summer of 2012 and made his debut for the club in August the same year, in an EFL Cup game. His Premier League debut came along in the 2014/15 season, ironically against his former club Manchester United. However, a cruciate ligament injury towards the end of the season meant he missed the entire 2015/16 campaign.
The midfielder returned to fitness a few weeks into the 2016/17 season and played only a minute of Premier League action, before he was loaned out to Barnsley in January, until the end of the season. James impressed in his short time with the Tykes, featuring 18 times in the Championship, scoring one and assisting one more.
An energetic central midfielder, James can play on the right-hand side as well and has occasionally been used as a defender too, which is one of his biggest assets. The 26-year old possesses a very keen eye for a pass and can unleash fierce strikes at goal from long range, which had often drawn comparisons to a United legend, Paul Scholes. An able set-piece taker as well, the Englishman also has good anticipation skills that allow him to thwart opponents from building the play in the midfield.
All these attributes indicate that he can turn out to be a more than adept replacement for Darren Fletcher. And also, the fact that he bounced back from a serious injury in such a strong manner indicates his mental toughness; a character that Pulis values highly in a player.
There will definitely be reservations for West Brom, considering that he spent over a year out on the sidelines, but given that he just has a year left on his contract with Leicester, James wouldn’t cost the Baggies much in terms of transfer fee either, making him a risk worth taking.