Saido Berahino is a prime example of how one rash tweet can put doubt into a sportsman’s career. Could this be the transfer window where we finally see him leave West Bromwich Albion?
The striker hasn’t started since October and has been linked to a move away ever since claiming on social media in September that he would never play for club chairman Jeremy Peace again. It appears his failed transfer to Tottenham Hotspur in the summer didn’t go down too well with the youngster.
Reports suggest four clubs are now interested in the England Under-21 forward- Chelsea, Spurs, Newcastle and Stoke City.
Who needs him?
Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs pose as the most likely destination for West Brom’s unhappy striker. Tottenham need another forward at the club to help cement a top four place and to also add some long term stability by creating a solid and balanced young squad. It is no secret that Berahino wants a move to White Hart Lane, and has had his heart set on going there ever since the summer.
Unless he is going to partner Harry Kane upfront, I see no starting place for him. Tottenham are playing some of the best football in the league at the moment and the manager will not want to make any adjustments to formation or player selection just to fit in a new signing.
He would be a backup if Harry Kane were to get injured, which isn’t the position he wants to be in if he wishes to continue his development. The only alternative at the moment would be him playing in one of the three attacking midfield positons in the 4-2-3-1 formation, which isn’t impossible when considering the use of striker Clinton Njié’s pace out wide at times this campaign.
Even if he wasn’t to be a weekly starter, it isn’t to say he wouldn’t be a great signing for the club. A proven threat to bring on as a sub will only bolster an already strong Spurs squad. There also remains the possibility that Pochettino would experiment with Kane and Berahino upfront together, which would be something Roy Hodgson would be keen to assess.
Steve McClaren’s side are the team in most need of Saido Berahino’s services. If the reports are true and Newcastle are interested in him then it is the type of transfer business that the club should have been looking to do years ago. A proven goal scorer with Premier League experience and the ability go on and play at International level. If he plays enough first team football, he can become a starting striker for a big club for the next ten years- the kind of prospect Newcastle desperately need.
There are already signs that Jonjo Shelvey could prove to be one of the best signings the club has made in recent transfer windows, therefore signing Berahino would be a step in the right direction in terms of building on this kind of transfer policy. He is at home when in front of goal and would provide vital goals in the team’s relegation battle as well as helping the club to rebuild overall.
His movement in behind would benefit Aleksandar Mitrović, preventing the Serbian from becoming isolated and giving him someone to flick the ball onto and bring into play. If the Magpies are to find themselves scrapping in a relegation battle, then his goals would prove vital. They could miss out though with Chelsea and Tottenham lurking.
Though a potential move to Chelsea would appear as the most lucrative, it isn’t the move that will help Berahino push for a place in Roy Hodgson’s squad for Euro 2016, nor is it the move that will help him develop into a top forward.
Guus Hiddink undoubtedly needs to bring another striker to the club, but the youngster might not be the solution. Bringing in Berahino would mean bringing in a striker with the same qualities as Loic Remy in terms of pace and movement in behind and in the channels.
Were Remy to move on during this transfer window, then yes Berahino would be a perfect replacement, however he is at a stage in his career where he can’t afford to be playing understudy to another striker, which would be the case at Stamford Bridge. Diego Costa’s apparent return to form means any new arrival up front would find themselves on the bench.
Having said that, it would be interesting to see how Berahino performed with Costa beside him and the likes of Willian, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas feeding his runs. If he were to play regularly, it has the makings to be an excellent move where Roy Hodgson and England are concerned.
A move to the Britannia Stadium is a long shot given the big names that are interested in the player.
What a signing it would be though if Mark Hughes were to lure him to the club. The striker would be a solid attacking addition to what is a growing Stoke City. He would take the club a step closer towards becoming serious challengers for a spot in Europe given the presence of other big names such as Bojan, Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic who have already taken the team to a higher level this season.
A key feature of Stoke’s play this season has been runs in behind, found by through balls from both deep and high positions on the pitch. His movement across all areas of the front four would go hand in hand with the tendency for the attacking midfielders to interchange positions and drag the opposition defence across the pitch.
Stoke are lacking that proven striker, amongst a couple of other players, that will help them really transform into one of the top attacking sides. They have already shown they can trouble the top teams with the resources they have so a top forward would set them in good stead in a time where the Premier League is more unpredictable than ever.
Tottenham looks like Berahino’s best bet at the moment, despite the reality that he won’t be the main man upfront. His head is already at Tottenham by the looks of it which means he is ready to put in the hard work there and fight for his place- something he might not be prepared to do eslewhere.
Usually you would say Newcastle would be the better option in terms of him spearheading the club’s revival and being a starter for years to come, but the uncertainty there at the moment won’t be something that attracts him.
Ultimately, staying at West Brom for the time being wouldn’t be a terrible thing for him- so long as he starts to play again and rediscover his form. He is only 22 years old and another season in the Premier League might do him good with regards to him learning his lesson, maturing and gaining more experience.
The club has been clear that it does not want to sell him, but I don’t think that will stop the player from moving on this time.