For years now, since the retirement of Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, the USMNT have struggled in the absence of a number nine. In the present day though, with just a couple of days gone in the January 2022 window, two MLS forwards have made big money moves to Europe. Former Barnsley loanee Daryl Dike will link up with manager Valerien Ismael once again but this time at West Bromwich Albion, whilst teen sensation Ricardo Pepi is set to smash Augsburg’s record transfer fee.
Zeroing in on the Dike move, it is a fascinating one from all angles in truth. Starting first with the destination. West Brom have certainly been struggling in front of goal recently. Alongside Fulham, the Baggies were tipped by most to make an imminent return to the Premier League. They currently sit fourth and are in a position to make a charge on the automatic spots. That being said, they are consistently underperforming on xG and have really lacked goals in the last month or two, a shot conversation rate of just 7% speaks volumes.
Daryl Dike Joins West Bromwich Albion
Who Will Dike Be Challenging?
Dike was linked with a move to the Hawthorns back in the summer, but Ismael ended up bringing in former West Ham striker Jordan Hugill on loan from Norwich. Hugill has managed just one goal in 1,003 minutes in the league thus far with a lot of his appearances coming from the bench.
The two main men in that central striker role for West Brom is Karl Ahearne-Grant and Callum Robinson. Grant has been very productive with nine goals and three assists in just short of 1,800 minutes plus Robinson has contributed to a further ten goals. There is still the absence of a much-needed clinical edge though. Enter, Daryl Dike.
What Can Dike Bring to the Table?
As previously mentioned, this is a great signing for West Brom, but it doesn’t stop there. This is the chance for Dike to continue in his career and take that next step plus Orlando City get the decent sized fee they’ve been after. Dike thrived under Ismael at Barnsley, whilst fellow USMNT duo Jordan Morris and Paul Arriola had to return to the States early after both sustained injuries with Swansea City.
Dike has proven already, despite being just 21, that he is a very dynamic forward. At Barnsley, he was a focal point. There were a lot of long balls played into him, some of which he held up and others of which he headed into the back of the net.
Then, with both Orlando City and the USMNT, Dike has shown a completely different side of his game. The ball has come into his feet more often than not and with and without the ball, he has proven to be a handful. His physical dominance in the penalty area, his speed running in behind, his powerful ball striking – all of these assets make up a very capable attacker.
Daryl Dike in Numbers
Dike came through the college system in the US where he scored a copious amounts of goals for the University of Virginia. This form saw Orlando draft him in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft. This rich vein of form in front of goal continued in Florida under Oscar Pareja as the Lions made the playoffs for the first (and subsequently, second) time. Across two campaigns, Dike netted 18 times in 35 MLS appearances.
In and amongst these MLS games, there was of course the loan move to Barnsley. Dike quickly endeared himself to the Oakwell faithful with his hard-work and the goals followed close behind. At a similar rate to that of his times with Orlando, Dike scored nine in 19, playing an instrumental role as Ismael’s side made a remarkable and equally surprising march into the playoffs.
The striker was part of the USMNT side who reigned supreme over the CONCACAF region in 2021 – Gregg Berhalter’s men won both the Nations League and the Gold Cup, the latter of which Dike played in.
The US revolution that sees many international colleagues join Christian Pulisic continues. Dike and Pepi have been snapped up for sizeable fees. Tajon Buchanan and Caden Clark have joined Club Brugge and RB Leipzig respectively too. Can Dike replicate his Barnsley form with the Baggies?
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