West Bromwich Albion will be hoping to make the perfect start to life under the guidance of manager Valerien Ismael when they face AFC Bournemouth in the Championship on Friday.
The Baggies stepped up their preparations for this particular clash by beating Birmingham City 4-0 in their final pre-season friendly last Saturday.
Although it is important not to get too carried away with this display, West Brom’s players would have managed to make considerable strides in terms of their match fitness by facing a fellow Championship side.
Whereas the likes of Karlan Grant, Matt Clarke and Grady Diangana all managed to illustrate glimpses of promise during this particular fixture, there was one notable absentee at St Andrew’s.
With speculation continuing to swirl around his future, Matheus Pereira was not included in West Brom’s match-day squad by Ismael for their trip to Birmingham and is set to miss the club’s upcoming showdown with Bournemouth.
A report from ESPN journalist Joao Castelo-Branco last week suggested that Al Hilal had submitted a €15m (£12.8m) bid for the attacking midfielder.
In a fresh update concerning the Brazilian, Ismael has admitted that the 25-year-old has told the club that he wants to leave this summer and is no longer committed to West Brom.
Speaking to the Express & Star, Ismael said: “I have spoken with Matheus for a few weeks.
“He was clear he wants to leave.
“He is not committed to the Championship and not committed to us.
“I accept this decision but I have to take my decision and now we need to solve the situation.”
The West Brom boss later added: “At the minute we are talking but there is nothing clear.
“At the minute I am just focuses on the guys who are ready to play for West Brom, ready to embrace the fight in the Championship.”
GIVEMESPORT’s Joshua Cole says…
Whereas a deal between Pereira and a potential suitor has not been finalised, it is surely only a matter of time before the playmaker leaves The Hawthorns.
Although the attacking midfielder’s abundance of creativity has resulted in him providing 46 direct goal contributions in 77 appearances for the Baggies, selling him for a sizeable fee in the coming weeks may turn out to be a wise decision by the club as he clearly doesn’t want to play for them anymore.
By using the money generated from Pereira’s departure to reinvest in his squad, Ismael could assemble a team which is capable of launching a push for promotion next season.
Providing that the 45-year-old is able to draft in some classy operators between now and the end of the transfer window, there is no reason why his side cannot go on to thrive in Pereira’s absence.
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