Slaven Bilic first spotted Filip Krovinovic when he was working in Saudi Arabia as manager of Al-Ittihad, but after missing out on him there he was determined to bring him to West Brom.
Having signed him on loan ahead of the 2019-20 season, the Croatian pair are now in their second season together and the importance of the midfielder has been growing over time.
With Bilic moving away from a double pivot and number 10 system in the Premier League and reverting to a three-man midfield, this had played into Krovinovic’s hands who is now looking increasingly influential.
Partnered with the energetic Conor Gallagher and with the shield of Jake Livermore behind him, the 25-year-old has become the playmaker, tasked with bringing the attackers into the game and progressing the ball up the field.
So far he has done a good job of it too, averaging a team-high 52.1 completed passes, at 84.2% accuracy, per 90 minutes. Of them, 6.15 are progressive passes and 6.92 are final third entry passes. The Croatian is also effective closer to goal, with only Matheus Pereira and Callum Robinson averaging more shot creating action per 90 than the midfielder (via FBRef).
Against Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday, Krovinovic was particularly impressive and played a big part in West Brom’s improved performance.
With 71 touches of the ball he was by far the Baggies most involved player and generally he used the ball well, completing two dribbles and taking six shot creating actions.
On the day, Krovinovic led the side in key passes, final third entry passes and passes into the penalty area, and also took one shot and made three tackles, one interception and one block (via FBRef).
All in all it was an excellent showing from the midfielder and his performance in the 5-3-2 formation bodes well for his manager going forward.
He could still add more goals and assists to his game, with just three goals and two assists last season in 40 Championship appearances (via WhoScored), but with Matheus Pereira, Conor Gallagher, Grady Diangana, Callum Robinson and Karlan Grant ahead of him, his primary role is as the facilitator and the player who gets the ball into dangerous areas.
In other West Brom news, View: 27y/o deserves West Brom start more than former international