West Brom in ‘late lunge’ for £8m ex-Leeds United target as Newcastle ‘set off’ domino effect

The latest West Brom updates as the transfer deadline approaches, including a ‘late lunge’ for an ex-Leeds United target - with a little help from Newcastle.

West Bromwich Albion are reportedly looking at the possibility of bringing in Nottingham Forest midfielder Lewis O’Brien before the 11pm transfer deadline on Tuesday, January 31. The 24-year-old, who was heavily linked with a move to Leeds United last year, has struggled for minutes in the Premier League this season.

Despite being signed on a permanent deal from Huddersfield Town just six months ago, O’Brien hasn’t had much of a look-in at the City Ground. Injuries haven’t helped matters, but a lot of the £8 million Englishman’s troubles have been down to the sheer number of signings Forest made after promotion.

The Athletic reports that West Brom have been prioritising signing a central midfielder for the entirety of the window, but their urgency has been relaxed due to how impressive Okay Yokuslu and Jayson Molumby have been of late. The Baggies have taken a patient approach, weighing up their options by “putting together a list of players” with the view to becoming promotion contenders.

O’Brien is one of those high up on West Brom’s list and - although Forest head coach Steve Cooper wants him to stay - he could have a door opened by an imminent new addition in Nottingham. Newcastle United ace Jonjo Shelvey is expected to complete a move to Forest before the transfer deadline, freeing up a potential departure for O’Brien in a domino effect.

His fitness may not be at its peak currently, meaning his impact may not be felt instantly, but before heading to the top flight, O’Brien established himself as one of the best midfielders in the Championship. Exceeding all expectations under Carlos Corberan last term, Huddersfield finished third and narrowly missed out on promotion with a play-off final defeat to Forest.

O’Brien played a key role in that particular campaign, making 43 league appearances, scoring three goals and contributing three assists. Since then, O’Brien has spent time with the team that pipped him to promotion and Corberan has of course headed to West Brom. Had the Terriers been promoted on that day, things could look very different right now - but they don’t, so this could be the chance for a reunion.

O’Brien has only played 32% of the minutes available to him in the Premier League this season.O’Brien has only played 32% of the minutes available to him in the Premier League this season.
O’Brien has only played 32% of the minutes available to him in the Premier League this season.

Fellow promotion contenders Sheffield United may have something to say about that, however, as they too are tracking O’Brien as they look to strengthen for the rest of the season. With Norway international Sander Berge perhaps leaving Bramall Lane before the window shuts, O’Brien is the man they’re looking at as a potential replacement - according to our sister publication, The Sheffield Star.

What if O’Brien stays at Forest? Who will West Brom target?

Fulham midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah is another option being looked at if the Baggies can’t strike a deal for O’Brien. The one-time England international, who can operate either as a central midfielder, as an anchor, or as a centre-half, could offer some crucial versatility to West Brom.

According to The Athletic, Albion have been in talks with Fulham to sign Chalobah, with a late decision being made as to whether it would be a permanent transfer or just a six-month loan. The two sides failed to reach an agreement before Fulham’s FA Cup tie with Sunderland, but the situation is still ongoing with Chalobah missing that particular game. It is unlikely that West Brom will sign both O’Brien and Chalobah.