Americans Abroad: Daryl Dike’s role at West Brom, Gaga Slonina’s transfer, and more
Full question submitted by Eric M.: “What do you think Daryl Dike’s role at West Brom will be with Steve Bruce there?”
Hey, thanks for the question, Eric! keep
Because we got our first glimpse at a group of Americans playing in Europe over the weekend, I’m going to rope in some Americans Abroad nuggets here to go along with my answer to your actual Daryl Dike question.
Daryl Dike’s outlook
At the moment, it looks like Dike is sitting in the second spot on Steve Bruce’s striker depth chart. In West Brom’s first game of the English Championship season – that’s the second division in England – Karlan Grant started up top and played the majority of the game. Grant is a 24-year-old English striker in his third season with West Brom who scored 18 goals for them in the Championship last season. He’s also their second most expensive signing of all time: West Brom paid twice as much for Grant as they did for Dike.
It’s going to take a real push by Dike to climb over Grant in the pecking order. That said, there’s plenty of time this season for Dike to make his push. It looks like he’s going to get plenty of chances, too. Dike came off the bench in the 78th minute on Saturday against Zack Steffen and Middlesbrough. He didn’t look totally in sync with his teammates, but he bodied a handful of defenders, had a nice swim move on the end line to beat a defender and find a shot, and served as an outlet for long balls.
You know, classic Daryl Dike stuff.
I’m guessing we’re going to see more than a few of those second half substitute appearances from Dike this year in the Championship. At some point along the way, he could worm his way into Bruce’s starting lineup over Grant (or alongside him in a two-striker shape). It might take a little time, though.
Weston McKennie’s injury
Weston McKennie has a hard time staying healthy over the last few months.
Just a day or two after putting on a show on the piano, reports out of Italy indicate that McKennie is dealing with a dislocated shoulder that will keep him out for at least a month. He missed Juventus’ friendly against Real Madrid on Saturday with that shoulder issue and will now miss Juventus’ Serie A opener against Sassuolo later in August. If McKennie needs surgery, he’ll be out for a much longer period of time.
From a U.S. men’s national team perspective, the timing of this injury isn’t altogether terrible. The USMNT play their final pre-World Cup games on September 23 (against Japan) and September 27 (against Saudi Arabia). If McKennie is out for a month, he should be back in time to get some minutes for Juventus before heading out on international duty.
We’ll get a better idea of McKennie’s recovery timeline soon.
Gaga Slonina to Chelsea
According to reports, the Chicago Fire’s teenage goalkeeper Gaga Slonina is headed to Chelsea for a $10 million base fee with add-ons. At just 18, Slonina is a talented goalkeeping prospect for the USMNT.
It looks like he’ll sign for Chelsea over the next few days and then move back to Chicago on loan from Chelsea until the end of this year. Then, he’ll head over to England permanently in early 2023. It’s an exciting move for Slonina and a big chunk of money for the Fire, who should be far, far closer to FC Dallas’ end of the talent development spectrum than they actually are. Maybe this will be a wake-up call for Chicago when it comes to the value of developing, playing, and then selling promising young players.
I’m also interested to see what happens for Slonina after the MLS season ends and he moves over to Chelsea. While he’s a talented player, it’s extremely unlikely that he gets many first team looks any time soon. So where does he play? Does he play at all? Is there some sort of loan involved? Time will tell. But for Slonina’s sake, I hope he finds a way to get minutes and continue his development on the other side of the Atlantic.
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