There’s always plenty of buzz surrounding young English players who excel at the younger age groups. Thus, it is no surprise that there’s a spotlight on the U-21 team currently representing the nation at the Euros in Czech Republic. One player who impressed in the qualifiers but missed out in the finals due to injury is Saido Berahino. The West Brom man had an impressive season in the league and there’s plenty more to come from the young attacker says Jake Ashkam.
Who is Saido Berahino?
Born 4th August 1993, in Burundi, Saido Berahino is a forward currently playing for West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League. The 21 year-old has represented England age group sides all the way up until their U-21 team, scoring 24 goals in 45 games. He broke onto the scene in the 2013-14 season, scoring 9 goals in 35 games including a hat-trick in the FA cup on his debut while his first Premier League goal was the winner in a 2-1 victory over Manchester United.
However it was the 2014-15 season where he grabbed the attention of the bigger clubs. 14 goals in 38 Premier League games was a very impressive return for a 21 year old playing in a side that struggled to score goals, this earned him the club’s ‘Player’s Player of the Year’ award.
However, like with many young players these days there seems to be some baggage. In April 2014, Berahino apologised to the club after videos of him inhaling nitrous oxide for recreational purposes were discovered by the media. Furthermore, On 22nd October 2014, Berahino was arrested on the M6 on suspicion of drink-driving; he was charged with the offence in January 2015. Were he based in the US, he may have hired some attorneys Springfield IL, but he likely had a good legal team to back him in the UK.
Saido Berahino featured in the 2014-15 Talent Radar Premier League Team of the Season
Style of play, strengths and weaknesses
Standing at only 5’11”, he certainly isn’t the tallest of strikers but he is very strong for his height. He’s able to shield the ball from the opposition rather well, meaning his hold up play is much better than expected. However, when given space to run with the ball or behind a defence he can cause havoc. His blistering pace allows him to exploit a high line held by an opposition defence whilst his smart movement allows him to create space within the box to get into a goal scoring position which is a rare trait to have for someone so young and raw.
One aspect of his game that is vastly under-rated is his passing ability. A striker’s ability to pass the ball well allows them to bring others into play, create goal scoring chances and dictate the direction of the attack. Anything above 75% passing success is deemed as good for a striker. Berahino’s passing success rate is 83%, 2nd in the Premier League behind only Wayne Rooney. This is higher than both Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, which for a 21 year-old playing in a side that doesn’t dominate possession is extremely impressive. One area of Berahino’s game that does need some work is his creativity in the final third. He only managed to create 1 goal all season and only managed 27 key passes. However, it is hard to judge him in this area as he played in a side that struggled for goals.
Another area of his game that impresses me is his shot accuracy. In this aspect of his game he is better than Wayne Rooney (51%) and at the same level of Sergio Aguero at 54%. I’m not saying he is a better finisher than either of these players, but it shows that when he does shoot, he often hits the target. The percentage of his shots that end up as goals is again impressive for a 21 year-old.
|Saido Berahino||Charlie Austin||Diego Costa||Sergio Aguero||Harry Kane||Wayne Rooney|
|% of shots that end up as goals||20.3%||22.8%||34.5%||22.6%||25.9%||22.6%|
Even though he is the lowest out of the 6 strikers mentioned above, it isn’t by much. This is an area of his game he needs to work on if he is ever going to be a world-class striker, but it is a fairly simple part of the game that can be coached and improved. Furthermore, his shots per game ratio is fairly low coming in at 2.26 whereas players such as Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero have averaged 3.29 and 4.48 shots per game respectively. However, considering the fact that he plays for a team such as West Bromwich Albion who don’t dominate possession or have a particularly strong attack, it could be speculated that this stat would be higher in a better team.
Versatility is a key attribute these days and this is another area in which Berahino shines. He seems comfortable on the right hand side of the attack or the central attacking midfield role; and playing in these roles will increase his understanding of the game which can in turn improve his performances when played in his preferred role. When he does play in the central attacking midfield role he is very effective, having scored 4 goals in 3 games when deployed in this position; a very good return. In this position he can utilise one of his strengths, which is his ability to shoot from outside the box.
Under Tony Pulis, Berahino has found himself partnered alongside Brown Ideye in a conventional 4-4-2 formation which suits him much more than the lone striker role assigned to him during Alan Irvine’s reign at the Hawthorns. Whilst playing alongside Ideye, he often played as the deeper of the two strikers meaning he received the ball in the space between the opposition’s defence and midfield which allowed him to run at the defence with the ball or behind the defence looking for a through ball from a team mate.
In summary, Berahino’s ability to shoot is extremely good for his age, his ability to find his team mates with passes is very rare for a striker of only 21 and he works extremely hard for the team with his constant pressing. He does have a lot to learn though. His left foot isn’t very strong and it seems there may be some issues in his personal life with the drink driving offence, the use of nitrous oxide and there does seem to be some unrest within the dressing room.
What does the future hold?
I would be very surprised if he doesn’t end up at a top 6 club in the Premier League within 2 years. He has a lot of talent, and with the right coaching and system around him he could blossom into a 15-20 goal a season striker. A good comparison to make would be Jermaine Defoe in that respect, hopefully he reaches his potential.
Written by Jake Askham