West Brom boss Slaven Bilic has confirmed he did “everything” to bring Dwight Gayle back to the Hawthorn’s last summer.
The 29-year-old was a big hit with the Baggies across the 2018/19 season, scoring 24 goals in 41 appearances after Rafa Benitez sanctioned a season-long loan.
He was heavily linked with a return last summer, however Bilic has revealed ahead of tonight’s FA Cup clash that it was an ‘impossible’ deal for them to pull off in the end.
Here’s what the Croatian has had told the Express & Star about his pursuit of the Newcastle striker:
“When I arrived here he (Gayle) had just left,” Bilic said.
“More or less, every other word was ‘Dwight Gayle, Dwight Gayle’. He had a great season and scored many goals.
“But it wasn’t just goals, he gave energy.
“He gave energy on the pitch but also at the training ground.
“In the summer we tried. We lost 12 players and it’s not good to have such a huge turnaround in a squad.
“Because he was so good and so instrumental last season, we wanted to get him back.
“We did everything to get him but it wasn’t to be. It was impossible.
“In January there were some rumours and some speculation in the papers but no, no, no, we didn’t try then.”
“He has been injured but now he is good,”
“He played on Saturday, he was very lively. And if he plays he will be a big threat to us.”
It sounds like they pulled out all the stops to bring him back, but the combination of Bruce’s eagerness to keep him, his alleged wage demands and our reported price tag – of around £15-20m – may have ended their keen interest.
Not only that, Gayle recently said Tyneside now ‘feels like home’, so that combined with his determination to prove himself at Premier League level under a manager more likely to give him minutes may have been key.
Several months later, he’s made just a handful of starts under Steve Bruce, but did look sharp when handed a big chance up top against Burnley over the weekend.
He’s expected to be rested tonight, with Bruce reluctant to play a recently injured player twice in 4 days, however he could be a real weapon off the bench if we’re chasing the game late on.