As the January transfer window bursts open, it provides a wonderful opportunity for managers to scour the market for new recruitments who could make the all important difference between success and failure. There is always the risk of making panic buys which dramatically backfire on and off the pitch, but calculated gambles may be the only option for managers who find themselves under pressure. Brendan Rodgers falls into this bracket as Liverpool remain a pale shadow of the side that came agonisingly close to winning their first Premier League title – and 19th overall – since 1990 last season.
Defensive vulnerabilities continue to be Liverpool’s Achilles heel, but the failure to adequately replace Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge’s injury absence has seen their attacking power transgress from being powerful to toothless. It has created considerable speculation from the rumour mill of potential interest in bringing in a new striker during the transfer window, with Saido Berahino’s name coming to the fore as a realistic target. The West Brom star has rose to prominence as a potential star of the future for club and country, with the 21-year-old catching the eye through high quality performances in the Premier League. It could take £20 million for Liverpool to get their man in the hope of improving their league position, but spending a considerable amount of money on a future prospect may not be what Rodgers needs to address their current problems.
There is no question that Berahino is one of the most promising strikers in England, with the West Brom prodigy showing excellent development in becoming a first team regular, featuring in all 20 of the Baggies’ Premier League fixtures this season. Despite West Brom struggling at the wrong end of the table, Berahino’s progeess has undoubtedly been the main highlight, with 8 goals making him far and away the club’s top scorer. New manager Tony Pulis should look forward to working with a talented striker who possesses an abundance of pace and a clinical eye for goal which makes him a danger for any defence. Scoring against Liverpool and Manchester United shows he has the ability to produce against the very best teams in England, while Berahino has also become an important part of Gareth Southgate’s England Under 21 side alongside Harry Kane who is also enjoying a wonderful season in front of goal.
West Brom have already taken a stance on interest shown by Tottenham and Liverpool to secure Berahino’s services during the January transfer window, with Pulis revealing that they will accept nothing less than £20 million for their star striker. It may reflect a fair price in the current market given Berahino’s age and potential, but it also represents a gamble if Rodgers decides that the 21-year-old is the answer to Liverpool’s problems in front of goal.
Despite his considerable potential, Berahino is far from the finished article as he is still learning his trade in his first season as a Premier League regular. He is not the big name striker that Liverpool are crying out for, with Mario Balotelli turning out to be a considerable failure instead of a worthy successor to Suarez. Rodgers already has his hands full with one temperamental striker, and it is highly unlikely he would want to work with two; Berahino’s temperament and attitude has been questioned ever since his first call-up for England in November, with his decision not to celebrate any of his four goals in West Brom’s 7-0 hammering of Gateshead in the FA Cup adding more fuel to the fires of rumours that Berainho is unsettled after contract talks were put on hold. Furthermore, it has emerged that Berahino faces a drink driving charge after being arrested in October, with a potential driving ban, £5,000 fine and six month prison sentence waiting if he is charged and found guilty.