Hegazi’s departure is hardly a body blow

West Bromwich Albion confirmed this morning that Ahmed Hegazi has joined Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of £4m.

While it would have been handy to have completed this deal while Albion were still able to spend the money, it still makes perfect financial sense given the Egyptian’s reported £70,000-a-week salary.

The furore on social media against this transfer is, in my opinion, completely unjustified. Hegazi was a decent defender, but he was certainly not the “best defender at the club” as some have suggested, a fact underlined by a two undisputable facts.

Firstly, he has made just one Premier League appearance this season – yes, he played well and it was certainly Albion’s best defensive display of the season, but he has been available for Bilić all season and he has chosen not to use him. Furthemore, he started less than a third of the Baggies’ league games last season.

Secondly, he is being transferred to a Saudi Arabian club, hardly a step up the footballing ladder. I suspect that Hegazi has been available for transfer ever since the Baggies were relegated in 2018, but I am not aware of any previous bids, despite rumours. I also think that Kipré was brought in with the expectation that Hegazi would leave during this window.

The Egyptian has looked imperious in the odd game for Albion, but he has more often looked like an accident waiting to happen, even in the Championship. Yes, you could say the same about Kyle Bartley, but I personally don’t think there is much to choose between them.

For me, Hegazi has been the right choice for opponents where the aerial threat is at its strongest, but Albion cannot afford to keep a player on their books at £3.6m a year for the half-dozen games against the Burnleys of this world.

I am also sceptical of reports that “Bilić is furious” and suspect that a national journalist has extrapolated a view that the Croat expressed a few days ago that he was “happy” that Hegazi was staying, thereby he must be unhappy that he is leaving. I’m sure every manager would like to have an extra player on their books, but given the fact I stated earlier that Bilić has not chosen to use him much this season, I would be very surprised if he is anything more than a bit miffed.

Thanks Ahmed, all the best for the future, but let’s move on and look forward to having some funds to bolster the squad in January.

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