The Saido Berahino dilemma emphasises the extremely narrow margin between success and failure in the Premier League. The 23-year-old was once being heralded as one of the most promising English players during his spell at west bromwich albion but is currently fighting to resuscitate his career at Stoke City.
Berahino exploded onto the scene during the 2014/15 season with West Bromwich Albion. He netted 20 goals in 45 appearances in all competitions and was voted Players’ Player of the Year.
The former West Bromwich Albion striker swapped the Hawthorns for the Britannia Stadium in January. Stoke City agreed a fee of £12 million including add-ons but he was underwhelming in the closing stages of the season and failed to score in 13 appearances.
In November 2014, Berahino received his first senior international call-up by former England manager Roy Hodgson. He was overlooked in both fixtures against Slovenia and Scotland but remained consistent at under-21 level.
The 23-year-old scored ten goals in eleven appearances for England under-21s and was voted Player of the Year in 2014. He also won the UEFA European Under-17 Championship in 2010, scoring one goal in a 2-1 victory against Turkey in the group phase.
So why has Berahino suffered such a rapid downfall both on and off the pitch? He’s been questioned about his attitude and injuries have also hindered his chances of reviving his career.
Tony Pulis – “Saido is a top player but he needs direction” (BBC Sport – February 2015)
West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis told BBC Sport that Berahino could be a “top class player” but needs “direction” in February 2015. Unfortunately, West Brom were unable to guide him to greatness and his off-field antics led to him being ostracized by a large percentage of supporters.
The Saido Berahino saga was prolonged over two seasons, despite his intent on moving elsewhere. Tottenham Hotspur had a £15 million rejected by West Brom for the 23-year-old in August 2015. This led to the player himself expressing his frustration with the foiled transfer via social media platform Twitter.
His comments sparked an aggressive and abrupt reaction from West Brom chairman Jeremy Pearce, who vowed that he’ll “never play for the club again”. However, he returned following an apology but netted only seven goals in 35 appearances in all competitions.
Berahino also faced tough competition in the shape of club record-signing Solomon Rondon from Zenit St Petersburg. He struggled to retain his fitness and was subsequently replaced by the Venezuelan target man during the 2016/17 season.
In November 2016, Berahino was sent to a training camp in France, after it was discovered that he was eight pounds overweight. He blamed the continuous transfer speculation for making it “the most difficult year” of his football career.
Can Saido Berahino Rescue His Career at Stoke City?
The early signs don’t look very promising for Saido Berahino at the Britannia Stadium. He failed to score in his opening 13 games and completed an eight-week FA ban for failing a drugs test.
Mark Hughes has backed him to make more of an impact in the 2017/18 season. He’s claimed to have lost a stone in weight since joining the potters, which suggest he’s determined to return to full fitness.
Berahino faces tough competition to retain a regular place in Stoke City’s starting line-up. Wilfried Bony failed in his attempts to revive his career last term, which means a possible resurrection isn’t guaranteed.
Peter Crouch enjoyed a good run of form in the latter stages of last season, Mame Biram Diouf is another viable option and Bojan and Joselu will return from loan spells. For me, Berahino will cement himself a place in the team on a regular basis if he proves himself in the early stages.
His off-field antics will also have to stop, as this caused havoc during his spell at West Bromwich Albion. He was found inhaling nitrous oxide in April 2014 and was arrested for drink driving in October 2014.
Remarks via social media also built bridges between himself and supporters,, which was be a foolish move if he is hoping to fit in at the Britannia Stadium. His recent acts of stupidity are remarkably similar to Aston Villa winger Jack Grealish.
The England under-21 international was tipped to play a key role in England’s future when he broke into Aston Villa’s squad. However, his off-field problems negatively affected his reputation and development and he’s likely to be another overhyped youngster.
However, Saido Berahino still currently plays in the Premier League, which means he has the perfect platform to perform on the biggest stage. If he fails to deliver at Stoke City, the future looks bleak for someone who promised so very much at such a young age.