West Brom Opinion: Filip Krovinovic’s arrival has handed a massive boost to the Baggies’ midfield
The 23-year-old becomes the Baggies first signing of the summer and also the first player to arrive at the Hawthorns since Slaven Bilic took charge at the helm of affairs last month.
West Brom are very much in the market for new signings after failing to secure a return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
The Baggies made it all the way through to the semi-finals of the EFL Championship playoffs this past season, only for their hopes to come to an end with an agonising penalty-shootout defeat at the hands of Midlands rivals Aston Villa.
New manager Slaven Bilic has been tasked with getting the club back to the Premier League as soon as possible and the Croatian has a massive rebuilding on his hands, with quite a lot of players departing the club this summer.
West Brom have a massive void to fill at the back following the sale of Craig Dawson to Watford, while loanees Tosin Adarabioyo and Mason Holgate have returned to their parent clubs Man City and Everton respectively.
Rekeem Harper’s new contract is likely to bring a sigh of relief to the fans and Bilic alike but the Baggies are still very much under pressure to cope with the departure of long-standing midfielders Gareth Barry and James Morrison.
As far as the options up front are concerned, last season’s top-scorer Dwight Gayle has returned to Newcastle United, while Jay Rodriguez’s future at Hawthorns continues to be up in the air.
To sum it up, West Brom look set for a busy transfer window and they would probably need to bring in around six or seven players this summer to fill in all the aforementioned gaps.
Despite that, however, the arrival of Filip Krovinovic on loan should go a long way towards easing the tension at Hawthorns, as West Brom look to get their preparations underway for the upcoming campaign.
It is very much a possibility that the presence of Slaven Bilic played a big role in West Brom completing a deal for the 23-year-old playmaker.
Krovinovic found himself out of favour at Benfica this past season and made only 4 substitute appearances for the Primeira Liga champions, meaning that the prospect of furthering his development with more regular minutes under compatriot Bilic at Hawthorns is likely to have appealed to the player.
Krovinovic spent his formative years at Lokomotiva Zagreb, Dinamo Zagreb and NK Zagreb before signing a professional contract with the latter in 2013. The Croatian went on to register a total of 13 goals and 6 assists in 78 appearances for NK Zagreb before earning a move to the Portuguese top-flight with Rio Ave back in 2015.
The midfielder made only 9 league appearances in his debut season in Portugal but he played a more significant role in the following season after successfully adapting his game to match the requirements of playing in a tougher league.
Krovinovic impressed with 5 goals and 3 assists for Rio Ave in the 2016-17 campaign and his growing reputation prompted Benfica to snap him up in the summer of 2017.
Krovinovic, however, struggled for regular minutes due to stiff competition for places and after making 13 league appearances in his first season, the Croatian found his involvement limited to just 4 substitute appearances in the previous campaign.
A former youth international for Croatia, the 23-year-old has represented his nation at U-19 and U-21 levels.
To put things into perspective, West Brom still have plenty of work left to do in the transfer window but the acquisition of Krovinovic can be looked upon as a step in the right direction.
A technically-gifted central attacking midfielder, the Croatian is noted for his wonderful range of passing, dribbling skills and creativity, as well as his knack for creating spaces, which complements a deadly eye for picking out teammates in the final third with inch-perfect through balls.
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Krovinovic’s arrival has handed a significant boost to the Baggies midfield in terms of depth, quality and creativity, and Bilic apparently knows how to extract the best out of him in the Championship next season.
Indeed, he is a quality playmaker and the West Brom fans have reason to look forward to some moments of magic from their new signing when the next season gets underway.