Baggies seek Wisdom but Foster crucial
West Brom had another successful day in the transfer window on Tuesday when they completed the signing of Andre Wisdom on a season-long loan deal from Liverpool, while Ben Foster also committed his long-term future to the club. It continued Albion's defensive revolution which has now seen four defenders sign this summer -- Wisdom joining Joleon Lescott, Chris Baird and Sébastien Pocognoli at the club -- with five defenders leaving at the end of the season.
West Brom's defensive recruitment looks to have been focused on bringing in players capable of playing in more than one position across the back, with Pocognoli being the only exception to that rule. Wisdom looks to have been bought in primarily as a right-back, where he impressed for Derby on a season-long loan.
But he is also capable of playing at centre-back, in fact he played most of his youth and reserve team football in that position. This may explain why Albion are willing to let Dawson go, knowing that Wisdom can fill in centrally in a two-man partnership or even as part of a three-man defence -- a formation that Alan Irvine has suggested could be used this season.
As you'd expect from someone who spent the majority of his time in central defence, Wisdom is a very good defensive full-back. He's got good pace while his size will make him useful for Albion in the air both defensively and in the opposition box. He is also great in one-on-one defensive situations, but perhaps he does need to develop his game going forward.
Foster's commitment to the club has really added to the feel-good factor. The former Manchester United man has signed for potentially another five years, so it looks like he could well end his career at Albion. If he does that, he would become a present-day legend at the club.
He's a rare breed in modern football: not particularly motivated by the money or the fame, but a local lad with family settled in the area. This is something that has drawn criticism in some quarters, particularly when he first retired from England duty because of niggling injuries and a desire to spend time with his young family. Foster returned to the international fold at the request of former Baggies head coach Roy Hodgson, and that again drew criticism which was difficult to understand. Why wouldn't England want a keeper of Foster's class ready to step in at a moment's notice if Joe Hart got injured?
Securing the England stopper's long-term future was particularly vital in a summer of defensive upheaval. Albion's defence will have at least three new faces in it, so ensuring Foster stayed at least guarantees consistency.
He has won player of the year in two out of the three seasons he's been at the Hawthorns, which demonstrates just how important Foster is to the club. He is a goalkeeper who wins games. In addition, he has made five penalty saves since joining the club, which is more than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League in that period.
Even though Albion have been splashing the cash this summer and buying plenty of players -- with more set to arrive in the coming weeks -- Foster is the best signing West Brom will make this summer.