West Brom must start playing Saido Berahino for the benefit of club and player

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The Saido Berahino transfer saga at West Bromwich Albion is turning into one of the longest the Premier League has ever seen.

It's fast becoming the kind of story that fans end up getting fed up of hearing or reading about - first the Baggies rejected offer after offer from Tottenham Hotspur last summer, then Newcastle United were rebuffed during this season’s January transfer window.

Yet the 22-year-old's current club are missing a trick. West Brom's refusal to either sell or play him is damaging his development, denying another team of his obvious talents and, most blatantly for a side slipping ever closer to the relegation zone, depriving Tony Pulis’ men of the goals they badly need.


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Put simply, West Brom have to start playing Berahino.

Whether at the Hawthorns or not, this should have been the season in which the England international, who scored 20 goals in all competitions last campaign, was challenging the likes of Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy for a place in Roy Hodgson’s squad for Euro 2016.

He should have been building upon his breakthrough season; instead, after his failed attempts to engineer a move last summer, he has played just over 900 minutes of league football all season, scored a mere three goals and failed to start a top-flight fixture since October 31.

As a result, his transfer value has plummeted, his relationship with the fans and Pulis has been dented, his confidence shot and the interest from Mauricio Pochettino has coolled. There is not a chance of him getting an international call-up any time soon.

Whilst donning an England shirt in time for the summer now looks beyond Berahino, all other issues can be resolved by Pullis making the Burundi-born striker the team’s main man again. He may only have three Premier League goals to his name, but club-record signing Salomon Rondon only has four despite far greater game time.

Berahino desperately needs to find fitness and form again to prevent an exciting early career from ending up on that large scrap heap of wasted English talent. West Brom - a side who have picked up only ten points from their last ten games - desperately need him.

Sitting just six points above the drop zone, alarms bells will be ringing and Berahino should now be starting week in, week out. He has the pace, movement and finishing ability that their currently cumbersome attack is clearly devoid of.

Questions over his temperament persist, of course. Can he show the fight and drive that Pulis embodies to force his way back into the team and get back to full sharpness? Or has his head simply been turned too far?

One might argue that he doesn’t even fit into Pullis’ style of play, with most of the team's goalscoring opportunities coming through crosses into the box. And how many goals has Berahino scored from his head during his Premier League career? Two.

Nevertheless, chairman Jeremy Peace and manager Pulis have made their point to the player and his many suitors. They have demonstrated perfectly that no one is bigger than the club and they won’t be forced into selling an individual if they don’t want to; now it's time to think about what is actually best for both the club and player.

The Berahino transfer narrative has dragged on for far too long. Right now he needs West Brom and West Brom needs him. The solution for Pulis is only too simple.

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West Bromwich Albion
Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur

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