Rochdale chief executive Colin Garlick believes Craig Dawson deserves the opportunity to play at a higher level following his transfer to West Brom.
The highly-rated defender has joined the Baggies for an undisclosed fee but will spend the remainder of the season on loan at Spotland.
The 20-year-old has attracted admiring glances from a clutch of clubs and Middlesbrough had a bid turned down earlier this summer.
Garlick said: "Realistically we knew that Craig would one day leave the club. Craig himself has been in our thoughts as he has expressed a desire to progress up the football ladder.
"Craig now knows his short and long-term future and thoroughly deserves his opportunity next season to compete at an even higher level of the game."