West Bromwich Albion are reportedly ramping up their interest in Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez, with the news of Hull City’s interest in the player causing the Baggies to prepare to offer the English forward improved terms. West Brom are keen to sign Rodriguez on a season-long loan deal, with the Englishman apparently open to the move in pursuit of more playing time.
Tony Pulis, speaking after West Brom’s EFL Cup defeat at the hand of Northampton on Tuesday, confirmed his interest in the 27-year old – but offered somewhat pessimistic remarks when asked about the chances of the loan deal going through, saying ‘‘I’m not sure, I think we’ll have to wait and see.’’
What Pulis had seen that day, however, was a club in desperate need of a bolstered forward line. West Brom’s anaemic attacks were perhaps the main culprit in their 2-2 draw with Northampton, which they subsequently lost on penalties 4-3, with their deficiencies in the final third plain to see. The Baggies clearly need to strengthen their forward line, and are looking to do just that in their pursuit of Rodriguez.
Having finally recovered from the series of injuries he sustained over the past two seasons, Rodriguez is aiming to reignite his spluttering career now that he’s back to full fitness.
A breakout season in 2013/14 saw him score 15 goals as part of a scintillating Southampton attack, and led to him knocking on the door of the English national team. A devastating knee injury in April 2014 derailed those ambitions, and kept the Southampton man out for the entire 2014/15 season. He eventually returned – 16 months later – but before he could rediscover his form he was out again, this time for surgery on a foot injury. After another lengthy spell on the side-lines, Rodriguez is fit and healthy again, and will be desperate to get serious minutes under his belt.
While the English forward is back to full fitness, he will likely struggle for minutes if he stays at Southampton, especially with the Saints set to bring in club-record signing Sofiane Boufal from Lille. The Frenchman, 22, is the subject of a £21m bid from Southampton and plays a similar position to Rodriguez – meaning he will most likely leapfrog him in the pecking order. That leaves Rodriguez as the fifth choice forward at the club, with Shane Long, Nathan Redmond and Charlie Austin all preferred options up front.
Southampton Manager Claude Puel has admitted to the possibility of a loan move for Rodriguez, saying, ‘’a thought with Jay is to see whether he will stay with us or go on loan to another club’’. It’s hard to see the drawback for him. By loaning Rodriguez to West Brom for the season, the Southampton manager is either getting rid of deadwood – if Rodriguez doesn’t find his form again – or he is allowing Rodriguez to work himself back to the player he was – in which case he returns to St Mary’s next season as an improved player.
It looks like a loan deal would suit all parties. West Brom need to bolster their attack with a player who is keen to get back to his very best, Rodriguez needs minutes in order to start rebuilding his reputation, and Southampton have no need for him – at least not this season.