Sam Allardyce warns clubs they won’t pick up West Brom’s ‘cherries’ on the cheap
The Baggies boss went on to highlight goalkeeper Sam Johnstone and midfielder Matheus Pereira as examples of players he feels are worth “a lot of money”.
Albion’s relegation from the Premier League was confirmed last weekend following a 3-1 defeat at Arsenal.
They have three games left to play this term – at home against Liverpool on Sunday and West Ham next Wednesday, before signing off with a trip to Leeds on May 23.
And Allardyce said at his press conference ahead of the Liverpool contest: “There’ll always be somebody watching, now we’re relegated, there’ll always be someone saying ‘what cherry can we try to pick out of West Brom?’
“Well, there’s some cherries to pick but you won’t pick them cheap. I think there’s a lot of them worth a lot of money.
“I’ve had one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League (Johnstone), without any question of a doubt.
“I’ve worked with Pick (Jordan Pickford) at Everton who’s now the England number one, and he’s right up there. You can mention all the foreign goalkeepers, he’s just as good as them. His distribution has got better and better.
“But because he’s Sam Johnstone in a struggling club at West Brom, he hasn’t got the credit – apart from the fact Gareth (Southgate) has seen what he can do, and knows he’s good enough to go in that England squad, and certainly be good enough to go to the Euros.
“And I think then there’s other players. The emergence of Matheus Pereira is no shock, certainly to me. When you saw that goal against Arsenal, what does that tell you about him? It tells you he is, without any question of a doubt, of the right quality to play in the Premier League.
“I shouldn’t really be talking about that, but it’s just a fact. I’m not doing anything other than just telling what’s going to happen, and what will happen to a club that gets relegated.
“But no cherry-picking, I don’t think. If anybody comes, I think the club would only let them go if they get what they value them at, and they should certainly value those two players very highly – and more, in fact. But just those two particularly I think have stood out recently for me .”
When asked if either player had mentioned to him that they would like to stay, Allardyce said: “It’s not my responsibility – the season’s not finished, my responsibility is to get the team playing.
“The responsibility of transfers, contracts and talking lies with Luke (Dowling, the club’s technical and sporting director) and Ken (chief executive Xu Ke), it doesn’t lie with me.”
Allardyce’s own situation is uncertain – his West Brom contract has a break clause in the event of relegation, and he said on Friday there was yet to be a decision made regarding his future but that he expects one will have been reached before the Leeds game.
Asked whether Mbaye Diagne and Okay Yokuslu, who are on loan from Galatasaray and Celta Vigo respectively, might stay for next season, Allardyce said: “We couldn’t afford them. We have to go to Championship wages now so they’re very difficult to afford, those players.”
Meanwhile, Kieran Gibbs looks to have played his last game for the club.
The left-back, whose most recent West Brom appearance came in January, agreed in March to join Inter Miami this summer, and Allardyce said: “He’s going to Miami, so there’s no point in asking him to do a job for us because…he would go and play for us, but I just wonder, in the back of his mind, ‘I don’t want to get injured’, subconsciously, (if) he would have that in the back of his mind.
“And of course – have you seen the form of Conor Townsend? At the moment, nobody in that position is better than him.”