West Bromwich Albion confirmed on Thursday that Rekeem Harper has joined Birmingham City on loan until the end of the season and the 20-year-old revealed in his first interview with Blues TV why he made the switch.
He noted that his friend and former Albion teammate Jonathan Leko convinced him to St Andrews, talking up the Championship club in chats they shared before the loan move was confirmed. The 21-year-old rose through Albion’s academy with Harper in their youth and made 23 appearances in four years as a first team player before joining Birmingham last summer.
Harper said: “I spoke to him (Leko) a little bit, he says a lot of positive things and he was obviously one of the reasons why I came here. I grew up with him so I know I can trust his thoughts and opinions on things I am delighted and hopefully we get to be out there together on the pitch.”
Harper also admitted he’d been disappointed with the lack of playing time at The Hawthorns this season. He made only four appearances from a possible 20 in all competitions this season, amassing just 31 minutes of Premier League football (Transfermarkt).
He fell behind Romaine Sawyers, Jake Livermore and Conor Gallagher in the pecking order, resorting to playing under-23s football on two occasions just to get some competitive action. Sam Field’s impending return from injury had threatened Harper’s chances of getting minutes, too, so that all factored in his decision to leave.
The 20-year-old added: “I haven’t had much football at West Brom, I feel like I have had the experience of playing football a few seasons back and I crave that feeling. I am hungry to get back on track.”
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Albion will no doubt hope that Harper can get more minutes on the pitch to fight for a regular spot with the Baggies next season.
With a bit of luck, Leko’s intervention may prove to be of long-term benefit to his former club if his new team-mate goes on to thrive upon returning to West Brom.