I have an admission to make, a concession even that I have banged on about the talents of West Brom’s summer signing quite a lot. Claudio Yacob is in my eyes a brilliant player with a magnificent understanding of the game, delightful range of passing and assured positional consistency.
He brings a guile and class from the centre of midfield that many teams in the Premier League might lack and helps the team tick over, reminding me of countryman Fernando Redondo for his style of play and unassuming, unconventional modesty from an Argentine (considering the stereotypes).
Yet while keeping an eye on his performances this season it is not the Argentine, who given a bit more time and experience in the Premier League may become a stand-out performer at The Hawthorns who has caught my eye to the point of publically declaring it on this occasion, but his midfield partner Youssef Mulumbu.
A product of Paris Saint-Germain’s youth system he represented France at youth level while coming through the ranks at PSG with future club captain Mamadou Sakho and the talented Clement Chantome.
After a loan spell at Amiens and subsequent toiling to achieve a regular first team place at Parc des Princes West Brom brought him in on trial then loan and eventually signed him for a shockingly inexpensive price of £175,000 in 2009 despite his injury hit loan spell.
But the Congolese international has not looked back since; barely missing a game in the last three seasons and consistently performing to a high ability in the heart of West Brom’s midfield breaking down opposition play and bursting forward when necessary with his strength and pace a genuine asset. He is above all else simply neat and tidy; similar to Claude Makelele, a good passer of the ball who loves to stick his foot in to a tackle when necessary.
His performance against Everton this season was highly commendable and in the summer he was linked with Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle. However he is tied down to a contract till 2015 and is loved by the fans, voted their player of the year in 2011.
The amazing thing is how well and quickly he and Yacob have developed an understanding of each other’s games. At a combined price of just £175,000 is there a centre midfield partnership in England that is better value for money then the West Brom pair?
What do you think, how good is Youssuf Mulumbu, and Claudio Yacob for that matter?