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What does the future hold for Stoke City’s Saido Berahino?

Martyn Cooke

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Stoke City striker Saido Berahino has released an explosive interview with BBC Sport in which he claims that the drugs ban that he served earlier in the year came after his drink was spiked and that “no one” protected him at West Bromwich Albion. The 23-year-old has become something  of a controversial figure within the football fraternity during the last eighteen months during a tumultuous period at The Hawthorns.

After bursting onto the scene during the 2014/15 season with 20 goals the striker then fell out of favour and form after a bid from Tottenham Hotspur was turned down on transfer deadline day in the summer of 2015. West Brom refused to cash in on their young starlet and Berahino found himself frozen out of the first team picture by Tony Pulis who publically questioned his fitness, attitude and character. However, the striker found himself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in February when it was revealed his omission by The Baggies was partly down to an eight-week suspension after traces of a recreational drug were found in his system.

Speaking about his drug’s ban, Berahino explained that the amount of the substance in his system was “really low”, leading him to claim that his drink had been spiked whilst he was in a nightclub: “I was in a nightclub, so I hold my hand up for being irresponsible [but] to be banned for something you haven’t really done is hard to take. You go on a night out, you don’t know who you are around and there are people who are out to get you. I still cannot understand who would want to do that to me.”

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Life at the Hawthorns

In January, Saido Berahino finally confirmed an exit from The Hawthorns after he secured a £12,000,000 transfer to Stoke City. However, news of his suspension for drug use was leaked to the media just days before the striker was set to line-up for The Potters against West Bromwich Albion in February, leading to a very public bust-up between the two clubs.

The striker has made it abundantly clear that he still harbours an element of ill feeling towards his former club. Berahino rejected claims that he was protected by The Baggies and explained how he came to “hate” the place where he had started his career as an 11-year-old academy player:

“No one protected me at that club.”

“I was depressed. Every morning I walked in the training ground [and] I didn’t want to be there. It was hard not doing what I really love – that’s what killed me the most. Going from loving something [to] hating the place that has made you is hard to take. Hate is a strong word but I really didn’t want to be there.”

Berahino has also hit back at claims that he was unfit at the start of the season. The 23-year-old was frozen out of the first team picture at West Brom and sent to a training camp in France by Tony Pulis who publicly criticised the striker’s fitness levels. However, Berahino insists that he was fully prepared for the new season and questioned how he could be “unfit” if he had just completed a “full pre-season and started four games” during the summer.

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Moving forwards

Saido Berahino is now looking to put his West Bromwich Albion nightmare behind him and is focusing on rejuvenating his career in The Potteries with Stoke City.

The Potters have taken a significant gamble, worth £12,000,000, on a player who has barely featured in a competitive game for the previous eighteen months and there is no guarantee that the striker will rediscover the prolific form in front of goal that made him such a valuable asset in 2015. However, Mark Hughes clearly has faith that the 23-year-old still has time on his side and believes that he will flourish at the Bet365 Stadium if nurtured in the correct manner.

In reality, Berahino has struggled to make an impact at Stoke since his arrival in January. The Striker has made six appearances for The Potters, four of which have come from the bench, and has yet to find the back of the net. He certainly looks fit, but he appears to lack the sharpness that made him such a prolific goal scorer during the 2014/14 campaign and it is clear that he needs regular playing time after eighteen months away from the game. Mark Hughes seems willing to give his new signing time to settle in and has given Berahino a starting role in each of Stoke’s previous two league fixtures, converting to a 4-4-2 formation so that the striker can play as a pair with Jonathan Walters.

Berahino certainly has an awful lot to prove, both to himself, his detractors and those at Stoke City who have placed so much faith in him. However, it is unlikely that we will see a drastic improvement in his performances until next season where, hopefully, he will be able to complete a full pre-season schedule without being drawn into any off-field controversies. The next campaign could well make or break Berahino’s career, which started so brightly and now needs to be rejuvenated.

Featured Image: All Rights Reserved Berita Hari Ini (Berita Hari Ini)

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

Sunderland

John McGinn is the kind of signing Sunderland need to bounce back

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Photo: Getty Images.

Sunderland’s transfer policy since relegation from the Premier League has been something of a mixed back and with hugely disappointing results. With Jack Ross now installed as manager, that could well change and early indications suggest that he may look back north of the border as he looks to strengthen with the signing of John McGinn.

Reports from The Scottish Sun say that the Black Cats may move for the Hibernian holding midfielder who has been hugely impressive in 2017/18 and earner a breakthrough into the Scottish national team.

Sunderland may be forced to pay as much as £3 million to sign him, as astronomical fee in comparison to what many League One sides would be able to afford, but with the benefit of parachute payments, it could be one of the wisest possible investments for the future.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

The 23-year-old has bags of potential and whilst £3 million is a sizeable fee, it comes as a bargain given that he is entering into the final year of his contract at Easter Road, and if a deal can be done it would be a major coup given that Brighton and Bournemouth, both in the top flight, have been tracking his progress.

A tough tackler in the middle of the park, McGinn would add the kind of steel and grit that was so sorely lacking as Chris Coleman’s team surrendered to relegation in their first season back in the Championship, and with youth on his side and time to improve he may well be sold on for a profit further down the line or become a leader for this side as they climb back up the footballing ladder.

It won’t be easy for Ross to secure such a signing, but it is the right kind of deal that the club should be looking to make. After making such high profile errors like the signing of James Vaughan, prioritising EFL experience and a proven track record over youthful energy and potential, McGinn shows that the club are beginning to put things right.

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Leeds United

Sunderland should make move for £50k-a-week Pierre-Michel Lasogga

The German is leaving Leeds United and Sunderland need new recruits.

Mathew Nash

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Pierre-Michel Lasogga will not be heading back to Leeds United this summer. The Hamburg striker spent last season on loan at Elland Road, as a replacement for Chris Wood. the one-time German international hopeful was looking like a very good signing at the start of his Leeds career, but his form always proved to be streaky.

In the end, his inconsistency did not impress new manager Paul Heckingbottom and he found himself out of the side. With his wages high, Leeds decided not to keep him on board for next season.

But what about other clubs in England. According to Hamburger Morgenpost, as relayed by Sport Witness, there is English interest in the striker and it appears Hamburg, who were recently relegated to the 2. Bundesliga, believe the English market is the best for finding Lasogga a new team.

So who might want to bring the striker in?

One team who should be interested are League One newbies Sunderland. The Black Cats suffered a second successive relegation last term and now find themselves looking to fight for promotion back to the Championship.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

However, it has been a progressive summer at the Stadium of Light so far. The club is under new management in Jack Ross and new ownership, with hefty funds being promised to fuel a promotion push.

Lasogga would be a perfect option for Sunderland, who need to strengthen their attacking options. The German has proven, albeit inconsistently, that he can find the net in English football and that was in the Championship. In the league below, he could be a major force to be reckoned with and could be the man to fire Sunderland back up.

It could be that Lasogga might see League One as a step below him, but playing for a club the size of Sunderland should make those issues subside.

Lasogga’s wages will be an issue for anyone in English football. It has been reported that the striker is on around £50,000-a-week with the German side, an amount that Sunderland should not even contemplate spending.

The Black Cats could, however, pay a portion of those wages, either on a loan deal or if snapped up permanently.

Lasogga would be a brilliant addition to the Sunderland attack and one the Wearside club should be entertaining this summer.

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Sunderland

Talented Jack Ross could be the man to end the misery at Sunderland

Josh Kerr

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Jack Ross
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Highly-rated manager Jack Ross was officially unveiled as Sunderland boss today, and he could be the man that orchestrates the start of a comeback for one of football’s biggest fallen giants.

The former St Mirren poss was permitted to speak to the Black Cats about their vacant manager position after the club suffered back-to-back relegations, seeing them fall to Sky Bet League One.

Ross guided the Paisley side to the Scottish Championship title this season and had also had talks with English second-tier club Ipswich Town, as reported by the East Anglian Daily Times.

The former Hartlepool right-back will leave a legacy at St Mirren after he guided the Buddies back to the promised land of the Scottish Premiership.

(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images )

His departure will undoubtedly break St Mirren’s fans hearts. However, the job at Sunderland has obviously proven too difficult to turn down.

After the Black Cats were finally cleared of all their substantial debt, Ross will feel he is the man who can finally steer the club back in the right direction.

The 2018 PFA Scotland manager of the year is young and charismatic and could finally be a figure worthy of Sunderland supporters getting behind.

Ross is undeniably still a risk for Sunderland considering he has zero managerial experience in England.

However, the Scottish manager already has a promotion on his CV, and Black Cats supporters should see themselves fortunate that such a promising candidate has filled the vacant position.

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