06:00 18th July 2013
And Scotland midfielder enjoying pre-season with Anelka
JAMES Morrison is delighted Albion have this week handed a new-and-improved contract to Youssouf Mulumbu, insisting: “Clubs would be queuing up to sign him.”
The DR Congo international was a mere snip at £175,000 from Paris Saint Germain in 2009.
And Morrison - speaking from the club's Bad Waltersdorf pre-season base - has been alongside him all the way in the Baggies camp, watching him grow from a Barclays Premier League novice into one of Albion’s top performers.
“I think Yous has signed more contracts here than anyone else!” he quipped.
“He’s done really well.
“I remember when he first came it took him a while to get used to the football.
“But once he did he never looked back.
“I think he’s taken everyone by surprise.
“He’s worked hard and he’s a good lad.
“It’s hard to keep finding those players but everyone will look at him as an example.
“No doubt if his contract ran out there would be a queue of clubs wanting to take him.”
The Baggies’ pre-season preparations pick up pace tonight with a game against German Bundesliga outfit Hannover 96 at the home of Austrian club FC Gleisdorf 09, in Styria (ko 7pm local time).
And the Scotland international has given his verdict on the first ten days back on the training pitch.
“Pre-season isn't as brutal as it used to be," he added.
“It used to be about almost being sick but it's more football specific now.
“It's been a good ten days and the lads are looking fit.
“I remember in the early days at Middlesbrough, sometimes I was nearly being sick.
“These days we have the balls out on the first day which is more unusual - but the lads prefer that.
“We've worked harder than we have last year so far.
“But we've come back in good shape and it's good.
“I came here a few years ago with Middlesbrough and I recall getting up at 7am for runs and things like that, so I most definitely prefer it this way!”
And Morrison is relishing the prospect of linking up with new signing Nicolas Anelka and learning from the former Arsenal, Real Madrid and Chelsea hotshot.
“He's very impressive,” he added.
“He likes to play deeper than the striker.
“He's changed his game from when he first came to the Premier League.
“His touch, his awareness - you can see why he's played at those clubs.
“I hope to learn loads off him. I hope to support him and do my best.
“We need competition for places.
“We’ve been steady here for a number of seasons now.
“We finished eighth last season so where can we go from here?
“The players are fully committed and have been for a number of seasons, which is why we have done so well with the group of players we’ve got.
“The European places are something to aim for and the signing of Nicolas is the first step towards that.”