With seven goals in all competitions for club and country already this season, West Brom striker Saido Berahino is at the front of the queue to inherit Michu’s title as surprise package of the season.
The England under-21 striker might have started just once in the Premier League this season, but his performances coming off the bench and in cup competitions have already garnered plenty of attention from some of the league’s top sides.
A hat-trick in the League Cup against Newport in August set him off in fine style, but it was his winner in the stunning 2-1 victory at Old Trafford last month that really announced his arrival as a young talent of some real worth.
That worth is surely more than the reported £850-a-week deal that he is currently on at the Hawthorns, one that expires in the summer and therefore leaves West Brom in a very precarious situation regarding the 20-year-old.
Steve Clarke will undoubtedly be keen to tie him down on a longer-term contract, but the irony won’t be lost on the Scottish boss that the more he bloods the youngster in the Premier League, and the more success he enjoys, the higher the chance of him ending up at a different club come May.
Only last week Chelsea were said to be keeping an eye on the Burundi-born youngster’s progress, while today reports claim that Arsene Wenger has seen enough of him in two games against the Gunners already this season to persuade him to make a move as early as January.
Arsenal sit pretty at the top of the Premier League, but their lack of genuine quality back-up to striker Olivier Giroud is well-documented, with notoriously hit-and-miss Nicklas Bendtner the only alternative.
And after the high-profile signing of Mesut Ozil meaning that midfield options are brimming, it makes a striker a real priority for Wenger once the transfer window re-opens.
Bringing in Berahino would be advantageous for several reasons, not least financially, with his contract situation meaning that West Brom’s bargaining position would be significantly weakened.
Then there is Wenger’s insistence on playing only one out-and-out striker, which could make recruitment of established players difficult as many are not likely to be keen to play second fiddle to Giroud. With Berahino still plying his trade, he’s unlikely to be as demanding when it comes to an immediate starting berth.
Clarke and West Brom won’t let Berahino go without a fight, however. Particularly having already seen one bright talent go the way of the big boys, when promising 16-year-old Isaiah Brown departed for Chelsea in the summer, pending a tribunal.