West Brom boss Steve Bruce held talks over a shock reunion with his former Hull midfielder Mohamed Diame last week but a deal proved virtually impossible due to the complications surrounding post-Brexit international transfers, Express Sport can reveal. The 34–year-old box-to-box midfielder, who also played for West Ham and Newcastle in the Premier League, is currently a free agent following his release from Qatari side Al Ahli SC in 2021.
Bruce has made no secret of the fact the Baggies have been keen to delve into the free-agent market after losing Jake Livermore for four matches due to suspension, leaving West Brom with just two senior central midfield players.
Speaking earlier this week, Bruce made it clear that the club had struggled to make any progress during talks with potential targets, due to the complications surrounding work permits, which need to be approved both government and FA officials.
He said: “If there was somebody out there who we thought… these days trying to get people in from abroad, with work permits, it’s practically impossible.
“We aren’t going to give up, but there’s not much out there which is going to improve us.
“Okay, you could bring a body in but if there’s nobody out there who won’t improve us then we’ll just leave it alone and give somebody else an opportunity.”
Express Sport has since learned that one of the players West Brom have explored signing is Diame, who held talks with Bruce as recently as last week.
However, hope of an unlikely reunion at The Hawthorns has since faded as the Baggies discovered they would struggle to secure a work permit for Diame, who holds both a French and Senegalese passport.
The pair have maintained an excellent, professional relationship since their time together at Hull -where the pair won promotion back to the Premier League in the 2015/16 campaign – courtesy of Diame’s thunderbolt in the Championship play-off final against Sheffield Wednesday at Wembley.
“Let’s face it, he’s a top player. He could go and play anywhere in the Premier League, Bruce said of Diame in 2015, prior to the Tigers’ relegation from the top-flight.
“I was with Kenny Dalglish recently and he told me that he was very close to taking him to Liverpool when he was manager there and Diame was out of contract with Wigan.”
Following his appointment at Newcastle in the summer of 2019, Bruce also revealed he would have tried his best to keep Diame at the club following his release at St James’ Park, had he arrived sooner.
Express Sport understands the player would still like to continue his playing career with moves to Scotland and the MLS now being explored.
West Brom, meanwhile, will continue to monitor the free-agent market.
One potential fresh opportunity that has materialised in recent weeks is Mbaye Diagne, who spent the second half of last season in the Midlands on loan from Galatasaray.
The 30-year-old Senegalese striker was recently released by the Turkish giants due to a serious injury, sustained during a fall during a local derby against Istanbul Basaksehir in December.
It remains clear whether he will play again this season but for now, he is without a club.