On the first day of the window, the long-running transfer saga has come to a close.
Daryl Dike is joining West Bromwich Albion on a four-and-a-half year deal “subject to international clearance.” Orlando City SC received an “undisclosed” transfer fee, reportedly “in excess of £7 million” according to The Athletic. The American striker links back up with Valérien Ismaël, who was the manager for his superlative loan stint at Barnsley during which the Tykes reached the Championship playoffs.
New year. New signing.— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) January 1, 2022
We're delighted to welcome @USMNT international forward @DarylDike to the club on a permanent contract. ✍️
“I’m delighted we have completed the transfer of Dike,” the manager told the club’s official website. “He was always our first target and priority… Dike has everything we need from the no. 9 position. He has energy, strength – he challenges defenders – and he scores goals… He needs time and the schedule for him is to work hard in the next two weeks so that he is ready to play a part against [Queens Park Rangers on January 15th].”
After being relegated from the Premier League last season, West Brom is currently at fourth place in the English Championship, four points out of automatic promotion. While not struggling on the attack, the club would benefit from the emergence of another goal-scoring option. To make way for the newest signing, starting striker Karlan Grant could move to a winger role in Ismaël’s 4-3-3 formation.
Dike has enjoyed a meteoric rise since being drafted out of the University of Virginia by Orlando City in January of 2020. In his first professional season, he scored eight goals in 17 Major League Soccer appearances. His play attracted the interest of several clubs, signing a half-season loan with Championship side Barnsley.
The target striker was a sensation, scoring nine goals in 19 appearances. He was named the club’s player of the month for March and April, earning the Tykes a spot in the promotion playoff. Barnsley extended his loan through the end of the season but opted to not exercise the alleged $20 million purchase option after falling in the two-legged semifinal to Swansea City.
Upon returning to Orlando, Dike endured an up-and-down summer, missing time due to national team duty and a shoulder injury. In the final stretch of the season, he scored nine goals, including five in his final five matches. The 21-year-old was named the second-best young player in MLS.
The move comes at an interesting time for his international future, with the USMNT’s striker depth chart still in flux. Dike made his senior debut in February of 2021 and has scored three goals in eight appearances. The Edmond, Oklahoma native was a member of the squad that won the most recent CONCACAF Gold Cup, contributing a brace in the 6-1 group stage victory over Martinique. However, he has failed to receive a call-up during World Cup qualifying, with Gregg Berhalter preferring to include other strikers, such as Jordan Pefok, Gyasi Zardes, and Ricardo Pepi.
While not the fabulous big-four transfer that was speculated over the past year, Dike landed in an opportune situation at West Brom. He already thrived under the club’s manager and in the Championship, possessing the talent and physical wherewithal to withstand the English league’s grinding schedule and style of play. Having experienced his first rest period in two years, the striker is in a position to maintain his elite scoring production, earn a promotion to the Premier League, and return to the national team at a crucial stage prior to the 2022 World Cup.
Is this a good move for Dike? Let us know in the comment section.