West Brom head coach Tony Pulis reiterated his desire to keep Saido Berahino at the club, with Stoke City boss Mark Hughes suggesting he will look elsewhere if his pursuit of the forward does not bear fruit.
Berahino endured a testing season under Pulis last season as his form and standing with the ex-Stoke manager suffered after West Brom blocked a move to Tottenham.
Stoke now appear to head the list of potential suitors for the 23-year-old, but Pulis is happy with the way his player has buckled down to work and has high hopes for his strike partnership with Salomon Rondon – the scorer of West Brom’s winner in last weekend’s 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
“Saido has got 10 days to go [before the end of the transfer window] and then we will start talking about football again,” said Pulis at a news conference ahead of his team’s Premier League home match against Everton.
“No-one is more keen than I am for him to stay. I thought he played really well with Solomon last week and, as far as I and the board are concerned, unless someone comes in with an unbelievable offer, and we have a replacement, then Saido will be going nowhere.”
Speaking as his team prepare to face Manchester City in Saturday’s early kick-off, Hughes conceded West Brom’s takeover by Chinese company Yunyi Guokai might also have held up any resolution to the Berahino situation.
“It is in the public domain that we have made bids and we are where we are,” he said. “They have had a change in ownership and we haven’t moved forward since then.
“They are looking to improve their group too so maybe their attentions are elsewhere.
“We probably lacked a cutting edge at the weekend, and in fairness through periods of last year too. We are looking to improve the group – in saying that we want the right quality and there aren’t too many at the level that we would like. “
Irrespective of whether Berahino stays or goes, Pulis intends to have a somewhat different squad to the one that will take on Everton come September.
“We need to strengthen every position and bring five players in if we can,” he added.
“It’s not just centre-halves and a centre-forward. I’m a bit more confident things might drop next week than I was last week.
“I don’t like to pre-empt anything. Hopefully we will have the numbers we need to push on by the end of the window. Five, fingers crossed.”