23rd September 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
Knowing he was deemed surplus to requirements at Tottenham following a disappointing 2015/2016 campaign that was heavily affected by injury, Nacer Chadli offered a simple yet well considered explanation as to why he chose to join West Bromwich Albion.
"I had a few clubs interested but West Brom came very quickly and they showed concrete interest and wanted to make it happen," he said.
"I thought if they really want me, it's important for me to go there and prove myself. That's why I chose West Brom."
For Chadli, who struggled to fully convince Mauricio Pochettino of his worth throughout last season and sadly missed out on selection for Belgium's Euro 2016 squad, the move gives him a fantastic chance to recapture his 2014/2015 form, which saw him produce five assists and score an impressive 13 goals in the league.
Judging by his excellent start to life at the Hawthorns, he's well on the way to doing just that. After an encouraging debut vs Bournemouth, Chadli emphatically sprung to life in his second game, a terrific 4-2 win over West Ham. In a match where Chadli was involved in all four of the Baggies' goals, assisting two and scoring two, the Belgian oozed quality, composure and polish in almost everything he did.
Deployed in what was ostensibly a number 10 role, the 27-year-old really animated things in the final third for West Brom, who often lack imagination in this area of the pitch. To start with, Chadli's crafty movement allowed him to pick gaps within West Ham's defensive setup to exploit, as he constantly floated around purposefully, both vertically and laterally, in search of space. Moreover, by persistently dropping deep into central midfield areas to give Claudio Yacob and Darren Fletcher a viable passing outlet, he acted as a brilliant link between midfield and attack.
Being such a competent dribbler and distributor who possesses great vision, Chadli's ingenuity to create chances for his side proved telling on many occasions. This was especially promising to see considering he's still adjusting to his new teammates and their tendencies. The fact he already appears to be forming a solid relationship with towering centre forward, Salomon Rondon, bodes very well for the future too, with the pair even supplying an assist for one another vs the Hammers.
Additionally, the fans would've enjoyed seeing the physically imposing attacker embark on a few of his customary barnstorming forward surges, where his power and pace caused Slaven Bilic's men many headaches.
The former Twente whizz was crucially full of industry and graft on the defensive end, which is an area of his game that he's unsurprisingly brilliant at having worked under the demanding Pochettino at Spurs. Chadli never hesitated to drop back and support his teammates. By pushing back to form a wall of five in midfield, West Ham's gifted creators in Manuel Lanzini and Dimitri Payet found space in damaging areas very difficult to come by.
Under clear instructions to man mark Mark Noble whenever possible, he undertook this task with equally admirable diligence and tenacity, as he did a fine job of restricting the Englishman's impact too.
Although it's still early days in his West Brom career, it's been heartening to see him come in and have such an immediate impact. If he can continue to combine power and finesse as effectively as he did against the Irons, the Baggies should vitally see a massive boost in their ability to manufacture and score goals. The supporters will undoubtedly enjoy the captivating extra dimension he adds to their offense too having suffered through limp displays by their team in recent times.
His former manager at Spurs, Tim Sherwood, was full of praise for Chadli when commenting after the match, telling Sky Sports: "Nacer Chadli is a fantastic signing, Tony Pulis has done brilliantly to get him to the football club."
"I think he's a great signing for them, he gives them a little bit of guile. I had him at Tottenham, Nacer - he affects the football match, he can assist and he can score and I was very surprised that Tottenham let him go to be perfectly honest."
Costing just £13 million, the acquisition of Chadli is certainly money well spent. Although joining West Brom is not widely considered the most enticing option, Chadli's decision to join Pulis' outfit is already looking like an inspired choice.
After all, moving to a team where he'll be a key man and an undisputed starter is precisely what he needed to rejuvenate his career.
Who knows, in time, he might even be able to regain his place in the Belgian national team too.
Licence to Roam - another great resource for football articles.
Nacer Chadli A Key Cog at West Brom for 2016/17
23rd September 2016. By Edward Stratmann.