West Bromwich Albion’s Saido Berahino has now missed three matches due to ongoing speculation about his future. This weekend, Southampton’s Victor Wanyama missed the match against Norwich for not being ‘in the right mental shape’ to represent the Saints. Both have a lot in common. Both have been subjected to intense media speculation regarding their futures. Both are players that Mauricio Pochettino has been intent on bringing to White Hart Lane. Both have handed in transfer requests. Both have had them rejected. Both have been unsettled by Spurs and the questionable tactics that they have used to push through deals for the two players.
Tony Pulis has regularly been peppered with questions about Berahino’s future with the Baggies’ boss claiming that the striker’s head wasn’t in the right place because of Spurs’ “disruptive” pursuit and bid for the forward. Whether you agree with Pulis when he says that it’s “ridiculous” that the transfer window is still open when the season has started is another debate. But what isn’t up for debate is the fact that a young player who still needs valuable game time to develop is missing games because he’s been unsettled by rumours, speculation and unclear transfer tactics is not fair on the player, club or supporters.
The start of the season is a crucial time for players to find their feet and pick up some form to kick start their season successfully. Both Tony Pulis and Ronald Koeman, like any other manager, want to spend the beginning of the season fine tuning their tactics and selections to find some rhythm early doors with almost fully fit squads. However, when Victor Wanyama and Saido Berahino, both key players to their respective teams, are unable to play because of the dubious tactics that Spurs are employing in the transfer market, more than the individual players are getting affected.
Fans want to see their best players play. Berahino is one of the biggest goal threats that the Baggies possess having scored 20 goals for West Brom in all competitions last campaign, the Berundi-born England Under 21 International would have been eager for a decent run of form early on this season that could have put him in good stead to better that goals return. However, missing out on games because of being unsettled not only threatens his form for the remainder of the season but also threatens his relationship with The Hawthorns faithful.
Like Berahino, Victor Wanyama is another essential player for Southampton. After being partnered with the gifted Morgan Schneiderlin for the previous two campaigns, the Frenchman and the Kenyan formed a formidable relationship that made them one of the most impressive and sought after defensive midfield duos in the league. With Schneiderlin getting his deserved move to Manchester United, Saints fans were eager for some stability in midfield and the mighty Kenyan was seen as pivotal in that for what many expect to be a big season for the former Celtic player. But with interest from Spurs being fed out through the media and what appears to be a poor attitude and reaction from the 24-year-old, Wanyama was left out altogether from the Saints team that was victorious against Norwich at the weekend.
Not only has Spurs’ interest in these two player impacted the two players, but their interest has also influenced the starts that these two teams have made to the season. Let’s go back a couple of weeks to when the champions visited The Hawthorns and recorded their only win of the season to date. When the score was 0-0, James Morrison had a penalty saved by Thibaut Courtois. With the first goal being pivotal in any game, if The Baggies did have regular penalty taker Saido Berahino in the starting line-up and the 22-year-old had converted the spot kick, given the start Chelsea have made to the season, the champions may not have left The Midlands with all three points.
Spurs’ pursuit of Berahino took another sour twist in the last hour of Deadline Day. Details of two bids in the final hours of the summer transfer window emerged which led to the forward venting his frustrations on social media. Berahino tweeted: “Sad how I cant say exactly how the club has treated me but I can officially say I will never play Jeremy Peace [West Brom Chairman].” Despite their clear long-standing interest in the player, Daniel Levy and Spurs left it until late on in the transfer window to make their move; a move that has drastic repercussions for everyone involved with the club. Although; as Berahino states, from the outside we are unaware of how he has been treated by The Baggies, his reaction on social media was unnecessary and screams of a reaction of a spoiled young player. Maybe that was the reaction that Levy desired from Berahino in order to push through a move in the final moments of Deadline Day. However, Peace’s and West Brom’s resilience means that The Baggies now have to deal with a want-away player who is threatening to go on strike. The impact that this will have on the rest of the club and their supporters could become astronomical. Whether a Baggies fan or supporter of Spurs, in fact whoever you support, that is neither right nor fair.
Whether Spurs have done anything untoward is debatable, but the fact that Tottenham’s top two transfer targets are extremely unsettled at their clubs can’t be a coincidence. Especially considering that players subjected to similar speculation such as John Stones are more than capable to continue performing at a high level for their club. It’s not just the players that are being affected. It’s the managers, coaching staff, team-mates, the club and us, the fans. That’s not fair. Something must change.
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