By Nick Ware

18th Jul, 2021 | 9:00am

West Brom in hunt to sign Aston Villa midfielder Conor Hourihane

West Brom are in the hunt to sign Republic of Ireland midfielder Conor Hourihane from Midlands rivals Aston Villa, according to The Athletic.

Writing on their website, Gregg Evans claims West Brom and Sheffield United have an “interest” in the 30-year-old who spent the second half of last season on loan at Swansea City.

Evans says that “most clubs in the Championship would jump at the chance to sign him, but only a handful can afford to”.

Wrong fit?

After all the young talent that have left West Brom for Aston Villa, it looks like we’re going to the other end of the spectrum and trying to take one of their most senior players.

Of course, we would actually be doing our Midlands rivals a favour here as they are clearly keen to shift Hourihane off their wage bill after he fell down the pecking order at Villa Park.

After making just four Premier League appearances during the first half of the 2020/21 campaign he joined Swansea on loan and impressed, scoring five times in 19 Championship outings and helping them to the Play-Off final, where they lost to Brentford.

His Championship record is impressive – he has scored 30 goals in 145 games for the Swans, Villa and Barnsley – and he has shown himself to be one of the best set-piece takers around.

But is he really what we need?

Alex Mowatt has already been brought in on a free this summer and looks likely to play a key role under his former Barnsley boss Valerien Ismael, while Jake Livermore and Romaine Sawyers are still at The Hawthorns.

Regardless of whether the duo stay, at least one more midfielder surely needs to be signed, but is Hourihane the right fit?

He’s not exactly known for his dynamism and power at this stage of his career, and he is unlikely to be an undisputed starter in the side.

As such, coming down from a Premier League wage, could we really justify the expenditure? That’s without knowing how much Villa are asking for him this summer, though his contract does expire next year.

Hourihane does have promotion-winning experience under his belt – he won the League One play-offs with Barnsley in 2016 before claiming the Championship equivalent in 2019 – and his arrival would only add to the wealth of winners in the side.

In other West Brom news, Albion could loan out this first-team star to raise transfer funds amid a bare summer budget.

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