Sheffield Wednesday: It's time for Saido Berahino to repay leap of faith taken in him by Darren Moore

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It feels a lifetime since the failed 2015 transfer story Saido Berahino has since admitted ‘he couldn’t get over’.

Tottenham Hotspur, who had already brought in the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Kieran Trippier as Mauricio Pochettino sought to close the gap on those above them and launch a title bid, were after him with £20m burning a hole in their pocket.

As Berahino’s club West Brom closed the door on any approaches, Spurs’ attention turned to Bayer Leverkusen’s South Korean international Son Heung-Min, then a relative unknown on those shores. A £22m deal was completed. Their careers since then could hardly have gone any differently – Son is now a Premier League superstar.

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Now 28, Berahino was handed a golden ticket second chance at Wednesday in the summer by his former Baggies colleague Darren Moore.

Two years in Belgium after release by Stoke City had showed flickers of his undoubted talent but things had gone slowly enough that Zulte Waragem felt comfortable allowing the former England youth starlet to leave for nothing. Both player and manager hoped to rekindle that spark.

Work goes on on that front. He has scored only one League One goal and aside from a 90-minute outing in defeat at Shrewsbury Town last month, Berahino last started a game in October.

Even without the injured Lee Gregory and Josh Windass, the likes of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Callum Paterson, Sylla Sow and Florian Kamberi have been preferred in recent weeks.

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Sheffield Wednesday forward Saido Berahino (centre) will be chomping at the bit for another chance in the side.Sheffield Wednesday forward Saido Berahino (centre) will be chomping at the bit for another chance in the side.
Sheffield Wednesday forward Saido Berahino (centre) will be chomping at the bit for another chance in the side.

His chance to prove his worth may come soon though, Moore has suggested, as the forward gets somewhere closer to the physical levels the manager demands from his players.

“With Saido, we feel that he started well when he first came but we realised that the level of football he’s been playing in the last couple of years is probably not of the physical level that it is here,” Moore said last week.

“What I can say now is that he is a far stronger, more robust player because he’s someone that, behind the scenes, has put in a lot of work.

“The opportunity will come for him because of the volume of games and when that opportunity comes, I’m sure he’ll be chomping at the bit to take it.

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“He’s far better when I look at him now compared to when he came in with the power and strength that he’s got now.

“In terms of him as a player that can score goals, I’m very happy with him and I’m sure that, should chances drop to him if he gets that game time, he’ll put the ball in the back of the net.”

Question marks remain over Berahino’s ability to truly affect games in League One. He’s an entirely different player to those preferred ahead of him in recent weeks and may well need to get his shorts dirty to earn more opportunities.

Whenever that next opportunity comes, he should be chomping at the bit to prove Moore and Wednesday right.

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“I brought him to the club for that reason and purpose in those front areas because he has got an eye for goal and that bit of quality,” Moore said. “As you can see, he’s in and around the squad and I won’t hesitate to call upon him if needs be.”