West Brom's star striker Saido Berahino has been linked with moves away to Liverpool and Tottenham for the past few months. In order to ward them off, the Baggies have slapped a £23 million price tag on Berahino. Without a doubt the figure is an overvaluation on Berahino's current ability, but if anything, it is a total undervaluation on the money West Brom will lose from being relegated because the truth is, without Berahino, West Brom may have been down and out already.
West Brom have scored 20 goals in the Premier League this season - the 4th lowest tally - and Berahino is responsible for 45% of those goals with 9 of his own. The next highest scorer is centre back Craig Dawson with 2 goals. Afterwards, there is a succession of eight players with a solitary goal to their name, including strikers Victor Anichebe and Brown Ideye. West Brom's other striker, Georgios Samaras, has yet to hit the target.
West Brom's struggles are largely attributed to an ineffective strike force failing to augment Berahino's efforts. In defensive, West Brom have conceded 29 goals; not a special record by any recognition but it is the same number of goals conceded by Tottenham and only two less than Liverpool.
In terms of chances created, West Brom fare better than all their relegation rivals, QPR aside. As per WhoScored, they are ranked 13th with 12.1 shots per game - 0.4 worse off than Manchester United. However, whereas Manchester United rank 8th with 4.4 shots on target per game, West Brom rank 14th with 3.5 shots on target per game.
Again, this brings into question the quality of West Brom's strikers. A simple comparison between Berahino and the other three strikers shows a disparity in quality. Starting with Berahino, he has averaged 2.4 shots per game; Anichebe and Brown has averaged 1.3 and Samaras 0.2.
When it comes to dribbles, Berahino has 0.8 per game. Samaras is next with 0.4, followed by Brown with 0.3 and Anichebe with an abysmal 0.1.
Finally, in terms of passing accuracy (86.5%) and average passes made (19.8), Berahino far out-trumps the others. Ideye's tally for both categories stands at 79.5% (passing accuracy) and 12 (average passes made); Anichebe's stands at 63% (passing accuracy) and 14 (passes made); whilst Samaras' stands at 83.3% (passing accuracy) and 8.4 (passes made).
In regards to movement of the ball, ability to fashion chances for himself and an ability to bring others into play, quite clearly Berahino is operating on a level quite identical to the elite of the Premier League. Meanwhile, his contemporaries within his team are performing like players who cannot handle the Premier League and would be better suited in the Championship.
For Anichebe and Samaras their struggles are part and parcel of their careers in the Premier League. Since becoming a regular in the 2006/07 season for Everton, Anichebe has three times gone an entire campaign scoring only once. In the 2010/11 season he even went goalless. His best ever goal return in the Premier League is six and last season for West Brom he scored only three times.
Likewise, during his two seasons at Manchester City, the most Samaras could manage was four goals. Before his career in the Premier League, the most he ever managed in the Eredivisie was 11 for Heerenveen. During his long spell with Celtic, he was often rotated and his two seasons of scoring 10+ goals are overshadowed by the five years where he scored less than 10.
However, Ideye has been prolific everywhere he has gone and all the stereotypical attributes - pace and power - to succeed in the Premier League. For West Brom's record signing to backfire as badly as he has is another example of how big transfer signings are not guaranteed to succeed. West Brom should bear this in mind when debating the merits of selling Berahino.
*Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.