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Spotlight: Nacer Chadli

The former Spurs midfielder has gotten off to a sensational start to life at The Hawthorns, what's behind it?

Nacer Chadli has had a brilliant start to his West Brom career.
Nacer Chadli has had a brilliant start to his West Brom career.
Michael Regan/Getty Images

We had to wait until game week 4 to get a look at Nacer Chadli in his new colors at West Bromwich Albion but, 5 appearances into his Baggies career, Chadli looks like he may be a value monster going forward. His price in official sits at £6.5 million, but in his first 5 appearances of the season, Chadli has 4 goals and 2 assists to his name. If he can continue to produce anything near that over the course of the season, then he's an absolute steal.

It was clear last season that West Brom needed more creativity and punch from the midfield so Tony Pulis spent £13 million on Chadli over the summer. The Belgian midfielder had fallen behind the likes of Moussa Dembele and Dele Alli at Tottenham Hotspur so moving to West Brom, where he would be guaranteed first team football, seemed sure to be a good fit. I doubt too many people saw him slotting in this quickly, and explosively, however.

As you would expect, Chadli has been given more of a license to maraud forward in this West Brom side and it is paying off. He's shooting more than he ever has in the Premier League (2.6 spg), he's also completing more key passes per game (1.4) than he ever did at Tottenham whilst averaging less passes per game (28.8) than he did during the two seasons where he really played a significant role at Spurs (2013/14 (30.9 ppg) and 2014/15 (30.5 ppg.) The reduction in passes is indicative of West Brom being a much less possession-oriented side than Tottenham. However, where Chadli was a mere cog in the Spurs machine, at West Brom he has quickly become the creative hub of the team. The fact that his passing is only down by about 2 attempts per game when Tottenham average over 200 more passes per game than West Brom only supports this notion.

He is in the top 5 of West Brom's squad in terms of key passes per game, pass success rate, total passes per game and through balls. He also leads the squad in goals and assists and West Brom are undefeated in games he has scored in. As is per the norm with Tony Pulis, his team will likely be comfortably mid table but their attack will run through Chadli and that coupled with his uptick in efficiency bodes extremely well for his fantasy value over the course of a full season.

Chadli has proven adept at utilizing West Brom's counter attacking style to fashion opportunities for himself to break into the box. Indeed 2 of his 4 goals this season have come from counter attacks (West HamSunderland). This makes sense as he was also adept at exploiting counters at Tottenham, particularly during a 2014/15 season in which he scored 11 times in the Premier League. He looks set to challenge, and even surpass that total this year.

Chadli has also proven himself crafty and persistent when getting on the end of set pieces, the other major attacking strength of his team. His goal against his former club and his shot/assist to James McClean against West Ham are both evidence of this. During his time at Tottenham he also scored a few goals from crosses (I counted 6 from his 2014/15 campaign alone) and with West Brom's propensity for pumping high balls into the box it wouldn't surprise me to see him get on the end of some for the Baggies soon enough.

So he's playing a more efficient game (his stat rating on whoscored is comfortably the best of his career), he's playing in a team that likes to utilize an attacking game plan that suits his best attributes and the attack typically flows through him as he operates as a number 10. Still not convinced? He's also the team's penalty taker and coolly dispatched one against West Ham for his first goal at the Hawthorns. Still not convinced? Well, following a couple of tough games away to Liverpool and home to Manchester City, West Brom's next 4 fixtures are Leicester City (A), Burnley (H), Hull (A) and Watford (H). I quite fancy Chadli to help himself to a decent number of points over that period, and if he does, you'll be happy you got in earlier.