Walsall Football Club made plenty of moves during the summer transfer window, signing a total of 12 players prior to the start of the 2020/21 season.
Included in those signings were Leicester City U23 forward Tyrese Shade, Hudderfield Town striker Kieran Phillips and Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper Carl Rushworth who all joined on season-long loans. Meanwhile, defender Ash Taylor inked a two-year contract with the Saddlers following his departure from Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen with fellow defender Zak Mills signing a one-year contract with the team after leaving Port Vale.
One of the key players to replace from a season ago was forward Elijah Adebayo, the team’s leading scorer during the 2020/21 campaign with 10 goals and one assist. The former Fulham FC product left the club in February 2021, signing for Luton Town. The Saddlers also looked to replace Caolan Lavery who signed with Bradford City earlier this month, after the Canadian tallied seven goals and provided three assists last year across all competitions.
Ones to watch
Ash Taylor signed with Walsall in July 2021, having arrived to the club from Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen. In what would be the first of two successful stints with Aberdeen, Taylor was instrumental in the club’s three consecutive second place finishes in the league (2014-17), allowing the club to participate in qualifying rounds of the UEFA Europa League during that span. Having once represented Wales at the youth international level (2012), Taylor returned to England in 2017, playing two seasons for EFL League Two side Northampton Town, before then heading back north of the border to Aberdeen for a two-year spell (2019-21).
Comes from an athletic family, being the son of former Republic of Ireland international footballer Mark Kinsella, and the older brother of Alice Kinsella – a 2020 Summer Olympics bronze medallist for Great Britain in gymnastics. Liam Kinsella has appeared in more than 140 games for Walsall, having spent his entire senior career with the Saddlers, after spending 10 years with the club in its youth system. He made his first-team debut for the Saddlers in 2014. He would go on to be named 2018/19 Young Player of the Season by the club. He is hailed as a tenacious midfielder, and grabbed the club’s Goal of the Season award in 2018/19, with his game-winning effort against Sunderland in a second-round replay of the Emirates FA Cup.
An energetic midfielder who can also play as a forward, Emmanuel Osadebe played in 38 matches across all competitions for Walsall in 2020/21, while picking up 26 starts in the process. He scored three goals last season for the Saddlers and assisted on two additional goals. Not afraid to contribute in defence, Osadebe collected eight interceptions and won 24 tackles a season ago, all while driving up field to deliver 79 crosses. He’s played for five different teams in his senior career with spells at Gillingham, Cambridge United, Macclesfield Town and now Walsall. He also had a season-long loan to Newport County in 2018. Following the 2015/16 campaign, Osadebe was presented with the Goal of the Season award from Gillingham on the heels of a magnificent strike at Bury in November 2015.
Tyrese Shade officially signed a one-year loan contract with Walsall just days before the club’s 2021/22 League Two season-opener at Tranmere Rovers over the weekend. He arrives to the Saddlers from the Leicester City U23 team. The St. Kitts and Nevis native has been called a “highly touted midfielder that can take chances in the final third” after successful performances for Leicester City’s Development Squad in Premier League 2, bagging four goals during the 2020/21 run of games. He arrived to Leicester City from National League North club Solihull Moors in 2017. Additionally, the 21-year-old has featured internationally for the St. Kitts and Nevis U20s.