Tony Pulis insists Saido Berahino will not be sold in January despite his public criticism of the striker, who has been labelled ‘frustrating’ by West Brom captain Darren Fletcher following his latest controversy.
Head coach Pulis said before Monday’s 1-0 win over Newcastle at The Hawthorns that Berahino was “lucky to be on the bench” for the game, and that the striker “lets himself down at times”.
He refused to elaborate any further, but after the England Under-21 international appeared as a second-half substitute, Pulis was quick to play down talk of the player’s exit.
“It is no surprise [that he came on],” Pulis said following the win. “Saido at times has got to understand it is about the team and it is about doing things together and being together.
“He has been told. Everything is alright, he was fine and I have pulled him and told him – he understands. There were no problems bringing him on.”
When asked if he wanted Berahino to leave in January, Pulis added: “No, not at all. We are keen to keep the lad here.
“Obviously he has had a very, very – not even an up and down season because of what happened in the summer [when he tried to force through a move to Tottenham]. The kid will get better and stronger for it.”
Berahino has scored just three goals this season and has once again been linked with a move to Tottenham, but it is his off-the-pitch conduct that has drawn most of the attention, with Fletcher conceding that the 22-year-old is at times his own worst enemy.
The former Manchester United midfielder – scorer of the winning goal against Newcastle – told Sky Sports: “He [Berahino] has had a difficult time. I have spoken to Saido and you know a lot of people have.
“He’s a real good kid; he does some silly things at times that you get really frustrated with.
“He’s a real talented player – that’s the biggest frustration how good a player he is and how talented he is and he does things that are a little bit petulant at times, but he’s young as well and I think everyone’s got to remember that.
“Maybe it’s a little more highlighted with him after this situation [with Tottenham]. It happens at all clubs but everyone does try and speak to him and he’s a well-liked member of the squad.
“We’ll see what happens in January but he’s always welcome here because we think highly of him and we want him to do well in the game.”
On Monday’s result, Fletcher added: “It is a massive three points. We have had a couple of results that went against us – two defeats in a row on the back of a really tough run.
“We hadn’t had much luck in the games but I thought our performance was fantastic, especially first half we really took the game to Newcastle with real high energy and I think it was a thoroughly deserved three points.”