If reports were anything to go by West Brom were desperate to sign Hamza Choudhury – but his display v Burnley shows they may have had a lucky escape.
Albion were linked to Leicester City midfielder Choudhury for the duration of January and whispers only started to subside during the latter stages of the month after an injury to Dennis Praet.
Indeed they were considered to be favourites for the 23-year-old’s signature but ultimately a move fell through and Sam Allardyce was left desperate scrambling for new targets.
He left it late but Okay Yokuslu and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were brought in on deadline-day as Albion assembled their squad for a last survival push.
While Yokuslu might be of more resemblance int terms of player profile, the reality is that we only had one domestic loan slot available, with Conor Gallagher already at the club on a temporary deal from Chelsea.
So it was either one or the other – Choudhury or Maitland-Niles.
At West Brom News we are glad it was the latter.
Since the start of February Choudhury has enjoyed a Foxes renaissance of sorts, being involved in eight of their last nine games after missing the previous six.
He was handed a starting role against Burnley on Wedensday but fluffed his lines in comedic fashion.
Choudhury haplessly gave the ball away in the fourth minute to cede possession to Burnley and Matej Vydra tucked the ball home to give the Clarets the lead and the visitors a mountain to climb at Turf Moor.
Leicester managed to draw the game but Choudhury’s mistake ultimately cost them all three points and he was sloppy throughout before his second-half withdrawal with WhoScored awarding a 5.6 match rating, the lowest on the pitch.
According to Wyscout he lost the ball eight times v Burnley including four times in his own half and only won 57% of his defensive duels.
Meanwhile, after a relatively slow start to life at The Hawthorns, Maitland-Niles is really starting to establish himself in the team.
Against Brighton and Burnley the Arsenal loanee’s defensive duel success was 75%, showing high standards and a level of consistency.
In the tempestuous Burnley game which saw Semi Ajayi sent-off in the opening half-hour he showed brilliant versatility as he shifted across to left-midfield as Big Sam adapted his tactics to combat the loss of a man.
Maitland-Niles stuck to his task admirably and helped Albion to a 0-0 draw before another combative display v Brighton the following week ensured another clean sheet.
It looks like Choudhury is sinking under the pressure at Leicester as they endure a miserable run of no wins in their last three, while Maitland-Niles is really coming to the Albion fore and showing his importance in our unlikely survival bid.
We think we lucked out on this one.