The meteoric rise of West Brom and England’s Saido Berahino has provided the media with a considerable number of stories so far this season.
From relative obscurity, the 20-year-old has become one of the Premier League’s most talked about players; so much so that there is already speculation linking him with a move away from the Baggies, with Arsenal and Chelsea both said to be weighing up bids.
Yet a potential transfer is just one of a number of rumoured possibilities for the striker with talk of a place in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad also having been mentioned.
It says much for the value of Premier League goals then, to a player who’s only previous experience, prior to this term, came from loan spells at Northampton, Brentford and Peterborough respectively.
Now, having said to have opened talks with his current club over a new deal, it seems there could be some tough decisions on the horizon for the youngster.
Whilst the evolution of current club WBA under boss Steve Clarke has been impressive to say the least, it is evident that they are still some way off being a real force in the top-flight. Without a win in their opening four games, it took a 3-0 demolition of a struggling Sunderland to lift the Hawthorns outfit, a result that was promptly followed by an unexpected 1-1 draw away at Arsenal, in which Berahino bagged an equaliser.
Now lying in tenth, with 14 points from 11 matches, it is difficult to say what course the Baggies season is likely to run, but pragmatism aside, it’s clear that it is unlikely to be as fruitful as those of Berahino’s London based suitors.
Both the Gunners and the Blues are struggling for strikers this season, with Arsenal largely reliant on the in-form Olivier Giroud, whilst Chelsea’s misfiring trio of Torres, Eto’o and Ba have just three Premier League goals between them; a record that makes currently league placing of fourth a fairly remarkable feat.
Thus bids for Berahino could well be immanent, with both sides able to offer him a more lucrative contract than Albion.
Indeed, his current deal has arguably been the source of much of the speculation regarding his future, with reports alleging that his wage is just £850-a-week, making him one of the Premier League’s lowest paid players.
Last week the Daily Mirror reported that the striker had rejected West Brom’s offer of a new £7000-a-week deal and though it is thought that ongoing negotiations appear promising for the Midlands outfit, the lure of European football with a prospective move to the capital might prove difficult to resist.
This all seems a little impulsive though. Berahino has, after all, only scored six goals for his side this season, three of which came in the Capital One Cup win over League Two Side Newport County. And though goals against Arsenal and later Manchester United are impressive, his record hardly yet smacks of a proven goalscorer.
But it seems that the media hype surrounding the player has become something of a whirlwind; admittedly aided the man himself, who’s exploits for the England under-21’s has made for similarly impressive reading in recent weeks.
Yet these feats alone still don’t really tally with a prospective move to a top club, at least not yet anyway.
A name that springs to mind in connection to this case, is that of Federico Macheda, who’s debut goal for Manchester United saw him heralded as some sort of footballing prodigy, an outcome that never really came to pass.
And so, as the speculation and lofty rumours build regarding the future of the young Berahino, albeit potentially justified, could there be something to be said for letting him mature at his own pace, without constant pressure from the press and expectations of a title-challenging club. West Brom, and indeed England, could well be on to a good thing here, so can we nurture it and avoid the pitfalls many young players have fallen victim to in the past?
Well, I guess we’ll see.