Can West Brom hold onto their England star?

Saido Berahino has enjoyed a good start to the season with West Bromwich Albion – which has only been made better by his call-up to the England squad – but the time has come for the young striker to think about where best to further his career.

It won’t be the first time in an England shirt for Berahino, who has warranted a senior call-up following a fantastic record for the Under 21’s. His scoring record at this level is only bettered by Francis Jeffers (who sadly never delivered on his promise) and Alan Shearer (who most certainly did). Saido netted 10 goals in his 13 appearances for the England Under-21’s side, prolific no doubt.

Berahino wasn’t born in this country but in fact was born in Burundi. However his family was offered refuge by the UK to avoid a bloody civil war in his home country. He has subsequently said that he will never reject any international call from the country that saved his life as a kind of thank you.

It’s hard to dislike Berahino, especially when he shows a passion to play for the country that so many natives don’t. It’s especially hard when he’s the top scoring Englishman in the Premier League at this current moment.

Saido may well get his first cap for his country against either Scotland or Slovenia during this international break, and if he does, I’m sure it will be the proudest moment in his and his family’s lives.

The 21-year-old is still very much in the early part of his career, but he must already begin planning when he wants to make the move away from West Brom. It’s inevitable that a young player who is showing his level of ability will move on to bigger things. By no means are The Baggies a bad club, but it’s not a place where dreams come true – which can be said for most teams in Premier League.

The work that West Brom have put into him since he joined the youth system in 2004 shouldn’t be undervalued. He has managed to climb through the ranks and is now arguably the clubs most influential player.

It’s the timing of his move away which is the crucial part. If he agrees to a move away too early in his career he may not get the game time necessary and end up wasting his talent on a substitute bench near you.

Many claimed that Theo Walcott had moved too early away from Southampton, but after a slow start, and despite many injuries, he’s grown as a player just fine. Also, Wayne Rooney moved away from his boyhood club Everton aged just 18, and he’s about to captain the national side as he earns his 100th international cap – not bad.

On the contrary you can cite the examples of Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell, both promising English youth prospects, whose respective moves to Man City led them to never really fulfilling their promise.

There’s no reason why Berahino can’t stay with The Baggies for another three or four seasons, or even for the entirety of his career. Plenty of players have done that in the past, but the chance of him progressing further as a player may suffer.

He obviously owes a lot to West Brom, as well as England, and due to his good nature he may choose to dedicate his career to the club that gave him his breakthrough. However, ambition may get in the way of this. Ambition and the wills of Liverpool and Tottenham.

I hope for his sake that the West Brom fans appreciate that his ambitions are beyond their club. His call-up to the England squad is richly deserved, and it is credit to the player that he has already managed this at 21, however it’s timing that’s really important now.

I sincerely hope Berahino makes the right decision and goes on to restore the nation’s pride in our national team.