Slaven Bilic has spoken honestly of how disappointed he is to have lost the services of defender Ahmed Hegazi as West Brom fought back from a goal down to clinch a valuable point at Brighton.
Karlan Grant’s late equaliser, his first for the club, cancelled out a Jake Livermore own goal in the first half, but Hegazi’s departure to Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Ittihad late on Sunday evening remained a hot topic following the draw at the AMEX Stadium.
Bilic has reasoned that he was made assurances that Egyptian Hegazi – who featured in the 0-0 draw with Burnley last Monday – would not be leaving the club. He explained that last Thursday, when addressing such speculation.
Yet Albion were made an offer to part with their top earner, who made just 15 starts under Bilic, and agreed to his sale ahead of the Seagulls clash – a match that, as late as this weekend, Bilic was planning on utilising the centre half in.
“It definitely wasn’t my decision and it wasn’t a football decision,” Bilic explained.
“I’m very disappointed. We are a team that needs all our good players, he is a player that has knowhow in the Premier League.
“He has vast experience, he’s an international player, he is a great professional and he played last week against Burnley and the whole week he was training with us when we were doing shape.
“Even on Saturday he was there and I had assurances he was going to stay and that makes me very disappointed he left.
“I know there are economic reasons and football reasons. We are newcomers in the league and we did great to keep our players from last season who were on loan but we were nowhere near as active as some other teams.
“Then at least you have to keep your players and Ahmed Hegazi was one of them and he wanted to play, he played on Saturday when we were doing tactics and shape he was in the first XI and we are not in a position to lose those kind of players, however well Semi [Ajayi] played.”
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Bilic was also asked about his own future, after reports in the national press on Monday suggested that the Croat was considering his own future in the wake of Hegazi’s Hawthorns exit.
“I’m concentrating on my team,” Bilic responded. “They showed me that today. They were very lively. It meant a lot for the guys and for me. We’re here to work.
“I love my team. I love them, but we need players. We’re a football team, not a corporation.”