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The forward who can bring to West Brom what Bojan has to Stoke

| 27.03.2015

Considering that Stoke are nicknamed The Potters, there is something bizarre in the fact that they have struggled to recruit creative players in recent times.

It’s fair to say that since Stoke relocated to the Britannia Stadium from the Victoria Ground in 1997, creative geniuses have been few and far between.

Forget counting them on one hand, the creative talents that Stoke have had in this period have been zero.

That was until this summer when Mark Hughes made the signing that could ultimately define his spell as Stoke manager by bringing Bojan to the Britannia.

Stoke suddenly had a player that could swing a game in their favour with brief moment of magic; that could create something out of nothing; that could pick the ball up in a tight square of Britannia turf and make something happen.

Victor Moses remains on board, but he is what can be called a power dribbler, lacking in subtlety and finesse. Bojan drifts between the lines, makes the most of pockets of space and effectively runs attacking moves.

Stoke’s win percentage may be worse this season when selecting the diminutive Spaniard, but few would argue that the change of philosophy he represents is a good thing in the longer term.

West Brom are another side that have racked up a solid number of Premier League seasons without ever having a true creative player in their ranks.

James Morrison and Stephane Sessegnon are capable, but are not true number 10s in terms of what that role is considered to represent.

With Victor Anichebe, Brown Ideye in attack, power and physicality is clearly the main attributes desired by Tony Pulis, while Saido Berahino may offer something different, he is not a creative forward.

Only Hull, Leicester, Aston Villa and Sunderland have created fewer scoring opportunities than the Baggies this season, while three of this quartet sit below West Brom for total goal attempts.

It says something that Morrison is their most successful dribbler from midfield with 18, while Berahino has completed 23.

Bojan has 44 from half the total minutes of Berahino and Moses has dribbled past opponents 61 times.

This is a clear area of needed improvement from West Brom, even as a plan B, and one player that has shown these qualities in the past week is Anass Achahbar.

It is common in Dutch football for youngsters to make names for themselves as teenagers, especially among the current Feyenoord crop that includes Jordy Clasie, Terence Kongolo and Tonny Vilhena.

Achahbar was regarded as a similar hot prospect but in a similar manner to Bojan at Barcelona, he largely failed to justify his potential.

It is worth noting that he was a regular Feyenoord appearance maker at the age of 17 under Ronald Koeman.

However, given another chance in the past week to prove his ability, Achahbar has shown signs of improvement. Confidence has clearly been gained by the miniature striker after heading an injury-time winner against Dordrecht when introduced as a late substitute.

He then started against PSV and scored two beauties in a Feyenoord victory. That’s three goals in under 90 minutes of pitch time in the past fortnight.

His small size has naturally means he has to be inventive to make an impact and it is his low centre of gravity, drop of the shoulder and quick burst of acceleration that makes him a threat.

Achahbar has been utilised more of a centre forward by Feyenoord, but a free role as a number 10 looks his long-term position. His contract his up in the summer too.

West Brom should be keeping tabs as the Dutch-Moroccan looks exactly the type of player that could offer an added dimension next season.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.