Pulis must solve Berahino quandary as first West Brom task

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According to Tony Pulis, the man West Brom have hired to save them from the Championship next season, the Baggies have absolutely no need to sell star striker Saido Berahino this January and are in a position of financial security to add to the squad whether he’s there or not.

“It would take a lot of money (to buy him), I think, and it would have to be one of the big clubs,” Pulis said after his first match in charge of the Premier League strugglers, a 7-0 thrashing of Gateshead in the FA Cup.

“We don’t need to sell, though. Financially, the club has been run very well and there is not a need to get the money in. We could buy and keep Berahino or we could sell him and buy a lot more,” he added.

His confidence in the situation is typical of a man that has turned himself into a relegation troubleshooter, but that doesn’t alter the difficulty of the decision in front of him.

Sides like Liverpool and Tottenham are reportedly willing to spend north of £20m on Berahino this January, a sum that the former Crystal Palace boss could easily spin into a safe mid-table finish for his new Midlands employers.

However, should Berahino depart he would leave behind a squad that has scored just 15 goals in all competitions without him, just two more than the 21-year-old has on his own.

Finding reliable goalscorers in the summer is hard enough, let alone during the panic-stricken stampede of the January sales, as Brendan Rodgers can painfully confirm.

But while the temptation for Pulis to keep hold of his prized asset must be strong, the player’s own mindset is another muddling factor.

With his head perhaps already craned skywards at the glitzier clubs linked with his capture, Berahino celebrated none of the four goals he scored in the Gateshead mauling.

An impending court date over a drink-driving charge only further muddies the water surrounding the Burundi-born striker.

Whatever route he chooses, Pulis must earn his corn dealing with the youngster before he can focus fully on hauling the 9/5 relegation candidates up the table.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.