Daryl Dike - The pressure is on to succeed at West Bromwich Albion
Daryl Dike is unveiled to The Hawthorns crowd - Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images

Daryl Dike's arrival at West Bromwich Albion has brought a fresh sense of optimism to The Hawthorns.

Albion's need for goals is greater than ever, and the American's move from Orlando City could well be the final piece in the puzzle for them.

It took a £7 million deal, along with performance-related add-ons to prise the striker away from the Lions

The powerful forward notched up nine goals in 13 starts for Barnsley last season during the Tykes' play-off push under current Albion manager Valerien Ismael.

And with the Baggies desperate for a number nine to spearhead their attacks, Ismael's chances of promotion are resting on Dike.

Pressure from the beginning

Picked fifth in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft, the centre-forward impressed whilst playing for Oklahoma City Energy in the USL Championship.

The weight of being picked so early on in the first round of selections must have been heavy on his shoulders.

Dike's brother, Bright was also a professional footballer, making two Nigeria international caps, with a torn achilles leading to him missing out on the 2014 World Cup.

Also picked from the SuperDraft, Bright moved forwards with his career, featuring in both the Russian and USA top-flight.

Despite carrying the load of a footballing family and being selected from the draft during the early stages, Dike proved his worth during his rookie season.

Scoring eight MLS goals in 17 appearances, the striker also won the Player of the Month award for August 2020.

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Barnsley's wildcard

After a starring role in Orlando's campaign, he was offered the chance to compete in the second-tier of English football with Barnsley.

The Tykes were in need of a powerful striker to front an aggressive forward line, and Dike provided a wildcard choice for Ismael.

Although his goalscoring record previously was impressive, the step-up into the EFL Championship would be huge, but with a side that had already been scoring at a reasonable rate, Dike wouldn't bear the same expectation of his early career.

Toying with second-tier defences, whilst gradually increasing his goal-tally, the American international had given Ismael's side a realistic stab at promotion.

This alerted the likes of Leeds United and Crystal Palace to his potential, but a possible fee of £20 million put the Premier League outfits off.

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The American dream

Having already gathered eight USMNT caps, Dike has set himself nicely into Gregg Berhalter's front-line.

After picking up his first international goal in a 4-0 friendly win over Costa Rica, the 21-year-old was named in the final 23-man roster for the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup​​​​​​.

The USMNT managed to win the tournament, with a 1-0 victory against Mexico in the final - and in turn, Dike collected his first major honour.

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West Brom's main man?

His form at Barnsley had English football alerted to his potential, but it was interest from Serie A that was prominent amidst negotiations with Albion.

An unforeseen visit from 'controlling shareholder' Guochuan Lai meant that Ismael had a chance to chat transfers directly with the man who sanctions them.

In that meeting, the Frenchman pitched the necessity of signing the American on a permanent deal, rather than a loan - which was expected.

Albion's expected goals (xG) have massively overshadowed the goals they've actually scored, with a value of 44.5 compared to their 31 actually scored.

With so many guilt-edged chances missed, it's fair to say that the Baggies are crying out for a striker to finish them.

With Dike's debut expected to come against QPR despite having not played a competitive fixture since the end of November, it could take some time for the striker to get up to speed.

However, Ismael and the Albion fans will be hoping he can hit the ground running as soon as possible in order to reignite their faltering promotion campaign.

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