Saturday afternoon’s watching West Brom are consistently unpredictable, hammer the Hammers one week, then snatch an injury time equaliser against bottom of the League Stoke just seven days later. You never know what to expect when you go to watch the Baggies but one thing you can rely on is a hard-hitting performance from Argentine midfielder Claudio Yacob.
Signed from Argentine outfit Racing Club on an unbelievable free transfer back in 2012 the now 29-year-old quickly became a fan favourite playing alongside club hero Youssouff Mulumbu in the centre of midfield. Making 30 league appearances in his first season at The Hawthorns he helped the club to their highest ever Premier League finish of 8th place under the management of Steve Clarke. That summer saw numerous links to big teams for the partnership of Yacob and Mulumbu but nothing ever came to fruition. The next two season were tough for Yacob and it looked like an exit was on the cards after falling down the pecking order under former manager Alan Irvine. In came current boss Tony Pulis and Yacob hasn’t looked back since.
If scientists could mould a Tony Pulis midfielder it would come out the carbon copy of Claudio Yacob. A no nonsense, take no s**t midfielder who will go through his opponents and frustrate the opposition. The 2015/16 season was by far Yacob’s best in an Albion shirt, making 38 appearances across the season missing just four league games. He finished the season with the 3rd highest amount of tackles in the league (162) behind Leicester’s Kante (218) and relegated Aston Villa midfielder Gueye (186). He’s carried on that form into this season playing in every one of Albion’s Premier League games this season. He’s become one of the first names on the teamsheet at The Hawthorns.
Claudio Yacob has won 306 tackles in the Premier League since 2012/13, only Morgan Schneiderlin has won more (324). pic.twitter.com/yOlVigEEBh
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 23, 2016
Now by any means Yacob isn’t the most technical footballer in the world, he’s not even the most technical footballer in the Albion midfield but if you’re talking importance to a team then he has to be classed as one of the most underrated in the Premier League. If you take him out of Albion’s midfield the team would get overrun by the oppositions. The likes of Fletcher and Gardner are good at what they do but sometimes when you’re a team like Albion you have to get stuck in 100% even if that does mean picking up more than a few yellow cards (Yacob is probably on par Clintons cards with how many he’s picked up). There’s also claims he’s reckless on the pitch and a walking red card. In the last three seasons including the start of this one Yacob has picked up just two red cards, which for a defensive midfielder who’s job is to go through opponents is a very good record.
“He’s magic you know, you’ll never get past Claudio” is often heard from the Smethwick end on a Saturday afternoon and if he carries on we’ll hear it many more times. I’m not claiming he’s the most underrated due to ability, I’m saying in terms of importance it’s hard to think of a player more valuable to a team. He always has a smile on his face and gives his all for the team no matter what the circumstances are. A player with the attitude of Claudio is hard to come by these days, Albion a truly lucky to have the captivating Claudio.