Josh Maja joins the Baggies off the back of his best scoring season to date.
The striker enjoyed the most prolific campaign of his four-year spell with French second-division side Bordeaux last term, bagging 16 goals and providing six assists in 38 Ligue 2 appearances.
And Baggies boss Carlos Corberán will be hoping the Nigerian international can carry his fine form into his maiden campaign back on English soil, as the 24-year-old prepares for a big year in the navy-blue-and-white stripes of Albion.
Like fellow new recruit Jeremy Sarmiento, part of Josh’s early upbringing came in south London, Lewisham, but most of the young hopeful’s growing up was spent in the middle of England’s capital in Pimlico.
It was south of Maja’s home in Crystal Palace where the extent of his footballing abilities were realised, as they became the first professional club to hand the attacker a chance to develop his skills.
However, Fulham’s interest and hope in the forward became clear as they went to considerable lengths to recruit Josh at the age of 11. After three seasons at Craven Cottage, though, his family relocated north of the capital - meaning Maja parted ways with the west London side and had a year out of the academy system.
It wouldn’t be the end of his Fulham links, though, nor did a spell out of youth football affect his development. Far from it, with European heavyweights Manchester City handing the target man an opportunity to impress in their ranks as a trialist.
While Maja’s goalscoring was an aspect of his game which couldn’t be ignored, the Citizens opted against handing the ambitious forward scholarship terms in 2015.
But fate and a clinical touch would secure Josh’s next step in the game as, after netting in a trial game against Sunderland, the striker’s influence in front of goal helped him write a new, exciting chapter in the North East.
Their faith in Maja became apparent when just a year after becoming a scholar, he signed his first professional contract, a three-year deal. Four months later, Josh was handed his senior debut by David Moyes during the Black Cats’ League Cup win over QPR in September 2016.
Relegation from the Premier League in 2017 meant the academy graduate gained vital experiences on the substitutes’ bench against Chelsea and Liverpool, and although a second successive drop down the English league pyramid resulted in big changes across the club, Maja seized his moment.
The first half of the 2018/19 season saw the striker create some sensational form for himself, providing 17 direct goal involvements (15 goals and two assists) in 24 Sky Bet League One games by mid-January.
Maja’s prolificacy in finding the net didn’t go unnoticed, opening the door for an attractive move to then top-tier French side Bordeaux. The forward’s transition across western Europe in 2019 didn’t only elevate him to a higher level of football, but it also meant an opportunity arose on the international stage.
Josh earned his first call-up and cap for Nigeria in September 2019, featuring as a late substitute for the Super Eagles in their 2-2 friendly draw with Ukraine.
Back in club football, Maja made just shy of 50 appearances in south west France, netting 11 goals in the process and prompting interest from one his first stops in youth football.
Having experienced the feeling of a top-flight match day from the dugout earlier in his career for Sunderland, Maja made a difference in the starting XI during his loan return to Fulham in 2021 - scoring three goals in 15 games, two of which came in a 2-0 triumph over Everton on his full Premier League debut, and the other secured a point at The Emirates during a 1-1 draw with Arsenal.
Another loan move in English football at second-tier Stoke City followed in 2022 before Josh moved back to France, where he helped Bordeaux to a third-placed finish in Ligue 2 during the 22/23 campaign - contributing 23 goal involvements in all competitions.
He will hope this recent form bodes well for a new challenge in the Black Country, where Josh will look to embrace the responsibility of leading the line for the Baggies.