West Brom haven’t done much during the summer transfer window, with only winger Matt Phillips signed outright and defender Brendan Galloway brought in on loan, but by all accounts they were looking to pick up a very promising recruit under the radar.
The Baggies’ reported £21m target, Sporting Lisbon striker Islam Slimani, was only beaten to last season’s Primeira Liga top-scorer gong by the colossal efforts of Benfica veteran Jonas, who finished on 32 goals for the campaign.
Slimani’s 27 put the Algerian international seven ahead of his nearest rival and was more than Jackson Martinez managed in any of the three consecutive terms he topped the charts with Porto between 2013 and 2015.
Indeed, the last person to manage more than 26 goals in Portugal’s top flight prior to 2015/16 was Mario Jardel 14 years ago, with the likes of Hulk, Falcao and others passing through since making the achievement noteworthy.
At 28, Slimani appears to have hit his peak after grabbing eight and 12 league goals respectively during his first two campaigns in Portugal, with the superior 2014-15 haul coming from just 21 appearances.
Tony Pulis must have seen him as a bargain at £21m, but the West Brom boss won’t like news of Arsenal muscling in on their Slimani pursuit.
Arsene Wenger and co have reportedly opened talks with Sporting about a deal, a move that will surely blow the chances of the Baggies landing the potential early replacement for Saido Berahino, or even Salomon Rondon if recent reports of Barcelona’s interest in the Venezuelan have any truth.
The price of Slimani has gone up to £25m, according to reports, but the lure of Champions League football in the country’s capital would surely be the prize that sees off the West Midlanders, should the rumours about Arsenal’s interest come to anything.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.