Last week, Irish starlet Zachary Elbouzedi was released by West Bromwich Albion after failing to break into the first team at the Hawthorns.
Elbouzedi has often been described as one of the most exciting prospects at development level in England but somehow did not seem to fit into the midland club’s plans. Having joined the club in 2014 from Malahide United, the exciting attacker looked to have the flair that his country is crying out for.
However this is not to say that this is still the case. Still only 19, Elbouzedi still has a long career ahead of him and could attract interest from England’s lower leagues. There is no shame in him being released given the increased difficulty youngsters face in a league where big money signings take priority over academy players.
Many players have come from the lower leagues to the Premier League having been released as youngsters. In the current Irish team, Eunan O’Kane, Conor Hourihane and Harry Arter are just a couple of examples of players released by Premier League clubs and built their way up from the lower leagues at a young age.
Elbouzedi does have a certain X-Factor to his game. He has memorising quick feet and technical ability, capable of creating goals through his mazy runs and scoring goals as he has shown for Ireland at underage. Well adept as a winger or behind the striker, Elbouzedi would not look out of place in the Championship.
Born to an Irish mother and Libyan father, he could still make a huge impact for the Boys in Green but may have to work his way up. Although not part of Tony Pulis’s plans, there is no doubt he will be in high demand this summer as a promising and enthusiastic free agent.
The League of Ireland could also prove a usefull destination for the youngster. Richie Towell and Sean Maguire are living proof that returning to Ireland can open up many opportunities with the ever improving standards of the League attracting many young Irishmen back from the UK.
The opportunity to play senior football and showcase his his talents at home could be ideal for Elbouzedi. UK Scouts are ever present in Ireland given the talent the country has produced recently and the tricky winger can use it as a platform to rebuild his profile. On the other hand he could prove a sensational signing for any league of Ireland club given his undoubted talent.
Elbouzedi has a similar playing style to ex-Bohemiens winger Aymen Ben Mohamed and the Gypsies have struggled to replace his flare and technical ability. A move for the former West Brom man could suit both parties with Elbouzedi looking for a new club and Bohs looking for some graft.
Dundalk or Cork City could also do with the added quality of Elbouzedi as they both prepare to embark on their European odysseys. Having lost Sean Maguire, Cork may look to Elbouzedhi’s attacking talents given the fact he can play as a striker. Ambitious Bray Wanderers could also be a great destination who already have former Ipswich academy player Dylan Connolly thriving in Wicklow.
Whatever Elbouzedi’s next destination, there is no doubting he is still an extremely exciting prospect. His next move could be key but pushing for first-team football should be a priority. Wheather that is in England or back home in Ireland, there is no doubt he will catch the eye and move back up the ladder eventually.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena