West Bromwich Albion have completed the signing of Wigan Athletic defender Cedric Kipre, with the Ivory Coast international signing a four-year deal at the Hawthorns.
The 23-year-old has arrived for a fee of £1 million, the same price that the Latics' signed Kipre for in 2018 when he moved to the then-Championship side in 2018.
The defender becomes their second signing of the transfer window, with Matheus Pereira making the permanent switch to the Albion just over two weeks ago.
Smart business from West Brom
The Baggies' has made the most of Wigans financial difficulties, with the League One side forced to sell key assets to bring in revenue and pay off debts.
According to the Manchester Evening News, Wigan owes £6 million to creditors, with Antonee Robinson, Kieffer Moore, Joe Gelhardt, Jamal Lowe, Josh Windass and Jensen Weir all leaving the club as a result.
Due to this, Kipre becomes their seventh player to leave for cash, with the £1 million fee also down to the player having just one year left on his contract.
With this, Kipre is a very low-risk transfer, with a high future sell-on value if his stint in the Midlands is a successful one.
The former Motherwell player joins the Albion ranks to compete with Ahmed Hegazi and Kyle Bartley for the second centre-back role, with Semi Ajayi likely to be his partner in the centre of defence.
Despite Wigan being relegated to the third division of English football, with their points deduction dragging them into the relegation zone, Kipre had a successful season.
The defender played an integral role in their upturn in form, with Kipre starting every game from the start of February to the end of the season.
In that time, Wigan lost just twice in seventeen games, winning nine games, and keeping 11 clean sheets.
Although his side finished 23rd in the Championship table, they only conceded 56 all season, less than any other side outside the top nine in the league, and just 11 more than West Brom.
He also completed more tackles and interceptions per match than Hegazi, Bartley, and Ajayi (three), but this would also be expected, with Wigan playing a more defensive system and conceding more attacks, compared to the high energy attacking way that West Brom play.
However, with no experience in the Premier League, there may be cause for concern. Kipre will join a back four that currently consists of Ajayi, Connor Townsend, and Darnell Furlong, all of which have only experienced Championship football.
* What Kipre has had to say
Many footballers have the ambition to play in the Premier League, with Kipre being no different.
Speaking to the West Brom website, the 23-year-old said: “I heard of the interest a month ago and the head of recruitment spoke to me and I had to be patient with it but finally I’m here - I am happy."
He added: “It’s a big club and the chance to play in the Premier League was what attracted me. My goal was to play in this division by the age of 25 and today I’m 23 so I’m grateful for the chance.
“I’m expecting to learn a lot from Slaven [Bilic] because he played in the same position and he can teach me areas to progress.”
* Dowling excited by potential
Sporting and Technical Director Luke Dowling shared Kipre's excitement with the move and was delighted that the Albion were able to secure a long-term transfer target.
Dowling told the club website: “I believe we’ve signed someone in Cédric who has got the potential to really establish himself as a Premier League defender,” said Luke.
“He was part of a Wigan team that, from the turn of the year, produced results which would have placed them in the Championship’s top three and Cédric was a very impressive figure in that run of form.
He concluded: “He has been on our target list for some time. We are delighted to get the deal done and look forward to watching him progress.”