This winter has seen the return of two of the great sagas. Star Wars more re-emerged from exile curtesy of a Disney reboot. Han Solo was once more gallivanting around the universe with his furry friend in tow. The second, not quite so revered saga admittedly but oh so real, was that of Saido Berahino and another transfer window.
In that galaxy far, far away that is the Midlands, everything surrounding Berahino seems to be descending into something rather farcical. Last summer, Berahino had the world at his feet. His breakthrough season last year saw the young Englishman score 14 goals in the Premier League in a West Brom side that is hardly famed for notching some big numbers in the ‘GF’ column of the table under Tony Pulis. Interest was always going to be inevitable and it seemed Tottenham were in pole position to acquire Berahino’s services. Then it never happened. In fact, it turned all rather sour. West Brom accused Tottenham of operating unprofessional. Jeremy Peace seemed aggrieved with Daniel Levy’s negotiation tactics as much as he did the instalments the fee would arrive. £22million plus bonuses seemed a reasonable sum. West Brom refused to sell, refused Berahino’s transfer request and told Tottenham to go do one.
Now we find ourselves after the January window in much the same situation at September. Time has stood still. Berahino remains a West Brom player after bids were rejected from Newcastle United and Stoke City, with both tabling offers roughly what Tottenham offered the previous summer. For all of West Brom’s stubbornness in negotiation, Berahino has only played 906 minutes this season in the Premier League, scoring 3 goals and playing 90 minutes just once all year. Surely a question must be asked as Tottenham continue to be linked with the player, is it worth Pochettino going back to for Saido come the summer?
According to The Mirror at the start of the week, Spurs once more have first refusal on the player with communication between the clubs now much clearer, as the loan of Alex Pritchard demonstrates but you have to wonder if Berahino’s lack of football affected his chances of the transfer, he so evidently wants? Bar the FA cup, this player has played very little football this season. Compared to the squad at Spurs that are now 2nd in the league, competing in both the Europa League and the FA Cup, Berahino would be miles off the pace that Pochettino philosophy dictates. The Birmingham Mail interviewed ex-West Brom player Geoff Horsfield and he draw very much the same conclusions, Berahino just hasn’t the fitness to play a run of games.
Obviously any fitness issues can rectified with a strong pre-season and I can imagine that Pochettino’s must be one of the hardest out there but it is just as feasible that Berahino would of played himself out of any potential transfer on the basis that he just isn’t playing football. Tony says he is a ‘good lad’ and with fitness and a better attitude, games could come Berahino’s way and he could go on and score 8 goals between now and the end of the season, he is after all talented enough for such a feat to occur. Yet you can’t help but feel that on this season’s performance, Tottenham are club that will soon be looking at the next tier of player in the transfer window. Come the summer, Tottenham will most likely be playing Champions League football, and whilst a tough tie against Fiorentina might limit their Europa League progress, a strong showing in the FA Cup could be on the cards. This is a club undoubtedly on the up.
With a new stadium on the horizon, Pochettino has admitted that money will be tight but for Saido Berahino and West Brom, Tottenham have the recruitment policy in place that £25 million could potentially buy a lot of player that doesn’t have the ‘baggage’ that Berahino comes with.
Yes, Tottenham will look to find good cover for Harry Kane in the summer, and I for one was very surprised that even a short term loan signing wasn’t brought in during January to supplement Kane from the bench. But will they go back in for Berahino after this season? Surely, such a personality is one gamble not worth taking for Pochettino as he takes this club forward into the Champions League.
Rich, The Sweeper Football Blog