West Bromwich Albion have secured the signing of veteran goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi on a deal until the end of the season, as confirmed by the club’s official website.
The veteran goalkeeper has previously played in England with Reading, Wigan and Bolton, before making the move to Saudi Arabia to play for Al-Hilal in 2017.
The 37-year-old’s final game in England proved to be Reading’s 2017 Championship play-off final defeat to Huddersfield Town. The Royals lost 4-3 on penalties after the game finished 0-0 after extra-time.
The signing of Al-Habsi adds a great deal of depth and experience in the Baggies squad for the remainder of the Championship season. The Oman international has enjoyed varying experiences in his time in England and would provide the perfect competition or back up to Sam Johnstone should he drop his level of performances or get injured in a crucial time of the season.
Al-Habsi’s experiences can not be understated, with the Omani enjoying 12 years in England. The 37-year-old has played 225 games in all competitions across both the Championship and Premier League (via Transfermarkt). He was also part of the Reading side to reach the Championship play-off final in 2017, showing his invaluable experience in a crucial aspect of the English second tier.
Al-Habsi also has trophy-winning experience in England and was part of the Wigan squad to trump Manchester City on their way to FA Cup glory in 2013.
In stark contrast, Slaven Bilic’s number two before the arrival of Al-Habsi, Jonathan Bond, doesn’t have nearly the same amount of experience as the veteran goalkeeper. Bond has played just 102 games in his career across multiple divisions, 123 games fewer than what Al-Habsi has managed in his 12 seasons in England (via Transfermarkt).
Al-Habsi’s experience makes him the better choice as a number two goalkeeper than Bond. If Johnstone does get injured in a crucial time of the season, then he can provide a good starting option.
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