As our eyes remain fixated to the television for the on-going European Championships, we tend to forget that this is indeed transfer season. Other than a few rumbles such as Arsenal’s approach for Jamie Vardy and Zlatan’s potential link with Manchester United, nothing blockbuster is yet to occur anywhere in England.
This can even been seen in the Championship, with the prime example of Derby County not purchasing anyone at this point, even though they had brought in four players by this time last year. It appears to be the calm before the storm, with the Euros apparently distracting not only ourselves but agents and players alike. One player who is not at Euro 2016 and so may be on the move before the tournament is over, is Saido Berahino.
Berahino was the player on every transfer expert’s lips last season, but as the 16/17 Premier League fixtures were released on Wednesday, the forward was still looking at the West Brom matches to see who he will be facing first. Again though, there are strong rumours that he will not be at Selhurst Park for the Baggies’ opening trip of the campaign to visit Alan Pardew’s men.
In fact, many reports such as that of The Telegraph’s, suggest that Berahino will be present for West Brom’s third away day of the season at the Britannia, but in an unfamiliar red and white stripes over blue and white. So, as rumours gain momentum about Mark Hughes making a move for the 23-year-old Burundi-born forward, we are left asking, is it a good move for the Potters?
Stoke City have become one of the many teams over the past decade that have transitioned from a regular Championship outfit to a perrenial Premier League performer. We would be very surprised to see the Potters finish below the dreaded dotted line of 17th position. In fact, the team recently sent shock waves up the other end of the table in the hunt for European football.
Many raised their eyebrows at the impressive moves Mark Hughes made this time last season with the acquisition of players such as Shaqiri and Arnautovic, two highly established European and international footballers. In fact, many could; and indeed have, argued that the transfer dealings of last summer at the Britannia were among the best in all of Britain.
They have established their brand as a team that are difficult to beat in the Premier League. With England’s young phenomenom goalkeeper Jack Butland behind the likes of Ryan Shawcross, Geoff Cameron, Glen Johnson, Philip Wollscheid, Phil Bardsley and Erik Pieters, Stoke City have become a very difficult team to break down. However, in this past season, goals were a big issue for Mark Hughes’ men.
With just 41 strikes hitting the back of the net, Stoke had the lowest return in the top 12, and three less than relegated Newcastle, including a negative 14 goal difference, also the worst in the top 13. The only City player to enter double digits in this past Premier League season was one of those blockbuster signings in Arnautovic (scoring 11 in 34 appearances) however, the next closest to Arnautovic was Diouf who gave a poor return of just five goals in 26 appearances. So, is Berahino the answer?
Saido Berahino; despite well documented distress at the Hawthorns, made 28 Premier League appearances last season for the Baggies. Berahino came under heavy criticism from his own manager Tony Pulis back in February for his dealings with the off the field rumours suggesting that Berahino should “squeeze the pips” to allow his performances to help him achieve a big move. However, the striker could only manage four goals in the Premier League last term.
An impressive in showing the FA cup did help boost his worth a little, however, with three goals in four appearances. Those totals brought his overall totals to 36 goals in 113 appearances for West Brom (one goal in every three appearances), which, all things considered, is pretty impressive.
I would argue that Berahino is the right answer for Stoke if the price is at a suitable level. It was reported in that report by The Telegraph that the move has been rumoured around £20 million. That is surely acceptable for a 23-year-old English striker in this market, especially one who is a proven goal-scorer. However, after the performances of last season, I would argue that anything above £20 million is excessive and a victory for West Brom.
Although it can be argued he is a proven goal-scorer, it could also be argued that at the age of 23, he could still turn out to be a flop and join the Depays of this world rather than the sensational breakthrough star Marcus Rashford. Berahino should be handled carefully, but footballers are at their best when they are happy, which Berahino was not in his last season at West Brom.
A move to Stoke would suit both parties, and the pace and confident finishing of Berahino would complete a perfect cocktail of attack for Stoke alongside the strength at skill of Arnautovic. If Berahino is to go to Stoke, with their defensive prowess, they would become a legit contender for European football ahead of a season which looks set to be one of the most anticipated ever. Can Mark Hughes pull off another exceptional move for Stoke? We look set to find out in the coming weeks.
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