It is unclear at the moment how much Carlos Corberan will be backed by West Bromwich Albion in the summer after the Baggies narrowly missed out on a playoff spot in the Championship this season.
The Spaniard took over from Steve Bruce with the Midlands side remarkably occupying a relegation spot and took them on a superb run of form which carried them into the top six, but ultimately they fell short.
Therefore, a strong summer could make West Brom one of the favourites for promotion next season but with the financial situation under Guochuan Lai looking grim, it seems unlikely that the Baggies will be making many big-money signings.
Corberan may be forced to look towards the academy in his search for new first-team players and could find a Championship-ready talent in Reyes Cleary.
The 19-year-old has enjoyed a superb campaign in Premier League 2 and with the Baggies’ strikers continuing to misfire, with no player scoring more than seven times in the league, perhaps he could be given a chance next season.
Who is Reyes Cleary?
A product of West Brom’s youth academy, the 19-year-old Cleary has been a regular with the U18s and U21s in recent seasons, notching 29 goals and four assists in just 32 appearances for the U18s.
After smashing in 18 goals in just 14 U18 Premier League appearances in 2021/22, it was only natural that he would be moved up an age group, something which he certainly hasn’t struggled with, as he boasts 16 strikes in just 12 Premier League 2 outings, which represents a stunning record of 1.33 goals-per-game.
Cleary was rewarded with his first senior appearances in 2022/23 but mustered just 55 minutes of Championship action, which seems surprising when you consider the struggles of Karlan Grant and Brandon Thomas-Asante, coupled with the injury struggles of Daryl Dike.
The USA international is expected to miss around nine months with an achilles tendon injury picked up last month, which could open the door for Cleary to become a regular next season.
Steve Bruce was full of praise for the teenage striker earlier in the campaign, with quotes that may well remind Baggies fans of their former loan star, Romelu Lukaku.
The former boss said: “He’s just a natural finisher, which certainly helps, so when he comes up he catches your eye because he smashes it in the goal, which is nice to see.”
Lukaku hit 17 goals in 35 Premier League games for West Brom in the 2012/13 Premier League campaign and few have come close to matching that tally in the years since, with only Dwight Gayle and Grant eclipsing that total in the Championship.
In the mould of the Belgian, Cleary is a physical striker with an eye for goal and if he is given regular first-team opportunities by Corberan next season, there seems no reason why he couldn’t emulate their former loanee’s performances at the Hawthorns given his exceptional goalscoring record in the academy.