It is not difficult to work out why Newcastle have been struggling this season. They have lacked a genuine goalscorer and their problems have not gone away.
With Aleksandar Mitrovic missing chances, Papiss Cisse injured, Emmanuel Riviere still regaining fitness and Ayoze Perez not a proven source of goals, the need for a striker is obvious.
However, if speculation is to be believed, Newcastle have passed up opportunities to sign Charlie Austin, Benik Afobe, Alexandre Pato and Bafetimbi Gomis. It suggests boss Steve McClaren has his heart set on one man.
The future of Saido Berahino appears ready to go all the way to transfer deadline day. Recently, it was reported that McClaren had ended his interest in the West Bromwich Albion outcast. But it also seems that a potential move could yet still happen.
With Newcastle at the time of writing in a genuine Premier League relegation battle at odds of 11/10 for the drop if you visit 32Red on mobile here, goals could fire them out of trouble. So, would Berahino be the man to help?
If it is true that West Brom incredibly want close to £30million for the 22-year-old, fans at St James’ Park will want to know for sure that they are getting the real deal. Berahino is still young and has not played at the absolute top level.
He has been out of favour at West Brom ever since requesting a transfer last summer and then criticising club officials when it was rejected. Berahino was attempting to engineer a move to Tottenham Hotspur but a switch to White Hart Lane now appears to be unlikely, with manager Mauricio Pochettino seemingly ruling out a deal.
Pochettino was asking questions about Berahino’s character given his public display of a lack of loyalty to West Brom. That could be an issue for Newcastle. However, it could also be the demonstration of an ambitious, self-confident player who would have the motivation to erase any fears of relegation.
With West Brom seemingly safe from being sucked into a fight for relegation, as they are rated out at odds of 9/1 with Unibet, 32Red and Sportingbet in the battle to avoid the drop, boss Tony Pulis has been able to largely ignore his star player.
Berahino has made the majority of his appearances this season in the Premier League as a substitute and he has scored just three goals as a consequence, averaging just 0.9 shots per game in the matches he has played.
Any Newcastle move for Berahino would therefore be a gamble on the England Under 21 international being able to replicate the 2014/15 form which saw him score 14 goals in 38 league appearances. In that campaign, Berahino also averaged 2.3 shots per game and contributed one assist.
Compare those statistics to the current Newcastle squad and it is clear what Berahino could contribute. Mitrovic is the only Newcastle player who slightly averages more shots per game (2.4) than Berahino’s 2014/15 totals. Mitrovic, though, has delivered more assists (two).
The prospect of Berahino and Mitrovic in partnership is therefore a tantalising prospect. The pair could partner each other and provide the perfect foil. That could well be what McClaren has in mind. With January signing Jonjo Shelvey potentially providing the ammunition in Newcastle’s playmaker role, there could also be ideal service.
Berahino’s preference to drift out to wide left attacking areas may create the space for Mitrovic, and Newcastle’s other strikers when they return to form and fitness, to give opposition defences a constant headache. Berahino may be a little lightweight in terms of aerial duels but it seems unlikely Newcastle are going to start playing long-ball football under McClaren’s principles.
If Newcastle are prepared to overlook the question marks about Berahino’s attitude and are ready to meet any asking price that West Brom set, it looks like a player they cannot ignore if they want to survive in the Premier League. With undoubted ability and at an age when there is still room for improvement, Berahino would represent an investment and a man to save Newcastle.