Stoke City have resumed their pursuit for estranged West Bromwich Albion forward Saido Berahino according to multiple media outlets across the United Kingdom.
Sky Sports News have reported that The Potters have made The Baggies a significant offer for the 23-year-old striker, although sources appear to suggest that any agreement remains some way off due to a contrast in each club’s valuation of the player.
Berahino has been besieged by controversy for the last eighteen months and has not made an appearance for West Brom since September. The forward has been frozen out by Tony Pulis due to apparent issues relating to his attitude, fitness and mentality with a return to first team action seemingly an improbability. Berahino has spent most of the season in isolation having been instructed to attend a fitness training camp in France and is set to leave The Hawthorns either during the January transfer window or when his contract expires in the summer.
Stoke City are among a host of clubs interested in the striker despite Berahino having not scored a Premier League goal since February 2016. However, he remains an attractive proposition having found the net 20 times during the 2015/16 season.
What would he bring?
At the moment, who knows!
The striker has been frozen out of first team action at West Brom for so long that it is difficult to know exactly what a club would be purchasing should a fee be agreed. Tony Pulis has been quick to highlight concerns over Berahino’s attitude, mentality and fitness although it is impossible to definitively state how exaggerated or accurate these claims are. What is for certain is that the striker has no future at The Hawthorns and a change of scenery may be just what the 23-year-old needs to re-start his stuttering career.
Berahino has already proven that he is capable of scoring goals consistently in the Premier League with his pace and trickery having always stood out as his most prominent features. His all-round ability is decent and at 23 he still has plenty of time to improve his game and develop into one of England’s leading strikers. It will take any potential suitor some time to re-sharpen the forward’s instincts in front of goal, but a fit, motivated and firing Berahino guarantees goals.
Is a move likely?
A transfer is a certainty, quite when the move will occur is a different matter.
Berahino will undoubtedly be moving on to pastures new, either in the January transfer window or when his contract expires in the summer, and it looks unlikely that he will return to first team action or agree any contract extension at West Brom. However, The Baggies are determined to maximise and potential transfer fee and are reportedly asking for over £20,000,000 – a price tag that no club would will be willing to meet for a player with only six months remaining on his current deal. West Brom may decide to keep hold of the forward until the summer where any potential fee will be decided by a tribunal, although it is unlikely that they will receive a significant fee if they elect to follow such a path.
The player will certainly be hoping to resolve his future in the next three weeks but any potential deal is reliant on West Brom softening their negotiating stance and lower their asking price. Berahino has previously threatened to refuse to play, although in the current climate any such warning is unlikely to have much influence on a Baggies team that is flying high in the Premier League.
Where will he end up?
Stoke City have been the most prominent figure in this on-going transfer saga and Mark Hughes has openly been chasing the 23-year-old for the best part of eighteen months, albeit with limited success. The Potters were unable to agree a fee for Berahino in the summer despite three months of negotiations whilst their most recent bid, thought to be in the region of £16,000,000, has also been rebuked by the stubborn Baggies. Reports in the local media have claimed that Stoke have asked West Brom to ‘name their price’, although this remains nothing more than rumour and guesswork at this stage.
Tottenham Hotspur did show a significant interest in acquiring Berahino, bidding over £20,000,000 two years ago, but appear to be chasing other targets during the current transfer window. Watford and West Ham United were also linked with a move for the striker during the summer as were a numerous other Premier League clubs. It looks like the 23-year-old will have no shortage of options.
However, Stoke appear the most determined to secure Berahino’s services at this point in time.
What is the final verdict?
Berahino will definitely be on the move, probably sooner rather than later if West Brom want to maximise any potential transfer fee, and it would appear that Stoke are the forerunners in the race for his signature. Quite how effective the striker will be is a slightly different question. The 23-year-old has played only sporadically throughout the last eighteen months and will certainly be well short of match sharpness.
How likely is a move? 9/10
Destination? Stoke City
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