One year ago, Daryl Dike was just another young American striker showing promise in MLS. Then a surprise last-minute loan ended Dike's off-season and sent him across the pond to EFL Championship side Barnsley.
Dike took to the English second tier as a Minnesota ice-fisherman takes to a frozen lake.
The Oklahoman needed just 14 matches to set an American record for most goals in an EFL Championship season (the old mark was seven goals, established by Reading winger Bobby Convey back in 2005-06).
Dike ended with nine goals in 19 matches, with Barnsley earning 13 wins, three draws, and three defeats in those games. He took the Tykes from an insipid 12th place at mid-season and lifted them all the way up to sixth and into the promotion playoffs.
Barnsley fell short of a Premier League spot, but the American made himself the hottest transfer commodity on either side of the Atlantic Ocean.
The summer transfer window came and went, and Dike was still an Orlando FC player. Injuries and national team duties somewhat limited his playing time in MLS, but Dike finished the regular season with seven goals in his last nine matches and ten goals in 18 appearances overall.
With the mid-season transfer window set to open in a few days, Dike is once again on the radar of English teams looking for a goal-scoring boost.
West Bromwich Albion tops the list of possible destinations. Valérien Ismaël — Dike's manager at Barnsley last year — is now the boss at West Brom and no one in England is more familiar with the American striker. One source even characterized the deal as "so close."
With just five goals over their last 10 league matches, Dike could be just the signing to make West Brom's promotion hopes a reality.
#wba in talks with Orlando City to sign striker Daryl Dike on loan for the season from January, with a view to a permanent deal. Negotiations continuing but Ismaël hopeful of bringing him in, after Dike impressed at Barnsley— John Percy (@JPercyTelegraph) December 24, 2021
Multiple Premier League clubs have shown interest in the University of Virginia product as well. Crystal Palace is one such side, although the Eagles would have to offload one of their current strikers before making a move for Dike.
Newcastle, West Ham and Leeds United are also potential landing spots for the American striker.
Dike would provide great cover for Hammers frontman Michail Antonio, with the Orlando City striker described as "Antonio 2.0," while Leeds United — partially owned by the same group that owns the NFL's San Francisco 49ers — would love to bring in the American.
The only barrier between Dike and a move abroad would be Orlando City's unwillingness to do a temporary deal.
West Brom's current financial situation prevents them from paying a transfer fee in January, making a permanent transfer next month a no-go. A loan-to-buy deal could be set up, but that would likely be contingent on the Baggies gaining promotion. Crystal Palace is also said to prefer a loan deal with an option to buy.
Of these potential clubs, Newcastle — having mostly recused itself over the summer — might be the only one with the funds at the moment to purchase Dike outright. Yet they only remain an outside favorite.