From Bujumburai to Belgium, Berahino’s career has been action-packed. However, as Alasdair Hooper writes, the forward’s future at RSC Charleroi does not have to reflect the chaotic nature of his previous spells.
There was once a time when Saido Berahino was seen as the future of England’s strike force.
Having broken into the West Bromwich Albion first team to become a regular in 2013-2014, he was viewed as hot property.
The striker bagged nine goals in all competitions that season before a breath-taking 2014-15 campaign saw him net 20 times, 14 of those coming in the Premier League.
With a strike rate like that everyone wondered how far the young forward could go and – more immediately – which top club would take a chance on him.
But that was as good as it got for Berahino in terms of goal tallies, as contract disputes and an infamous transfer saga involving Tottenham seemed to signal a change in fortunes.
Spurs famously put in a number of bids for the England youth international that were rejected by the club in the summer of 2015. The fourth and final rejected bid came on transfer deadline day – this famously led to a twitter outburst from the player, in which he stated that he would never play for the club again under chairman Jeremy Peace.
Unsurprisingly he was fined for those comments, and later apologised, but that season turned out to be sporadic at best for the once flying forward.
In January 2017 the move to fellow Premier League side Stoke City came about – a move worth £12million – as the forward admitted he had lost his way at his previous club.
Unfortunately, that move also proved to be unsuccessful, with Berahino failing to score his first Stoke goal until August 2018 – 913 days after his last strike for the Baggies. By that point, Stoke were a Championship club.
Under Nathan Jones’ tenure he was not only suspended, but had his contract terminated by Stoke following an arrest and subsequent conviction for a drink-driving offence.
So, what about Saido Berahino now? The forward is still only 27, and has plenty of football left in him, but decided to leave English football for Belgium in August 2019.
He joined Zulte Waregem, where he bagged eight goals in all competitions in his first year, before joining his current club Charleroi on loan in October 2020, with an option to buy.
The attacker hit the ground running at Charleroi – also of the Belgian Pro League – scoring a goal in each of his first two games. Aside from the pitch, he also had a fantastic personal moment in November when he welcomed the birth of his daughter.
His game time at Charleroi has mainly come from the bench – eight substitute appearances and five starts to be precise. There is however another familiar Premier League face at the club alongside him, a certain Jon Flanagan formerly of Liverpool.
As well as leaving club football in England, Berahino also decided to switch his international allegiance to the country of his birth, Burundi.
He was granted clearance by FIFA in August 2018 and made his debut on September 8, scoring against Gabon in an African Cup of Nations qualifier. The 27-year-old now has 12 caps but just that one goal to date so far for his country.
On the face of it Berahino’s immediate future seems to lie in Belgian football where he can play away from the spotlight – regular football fans will recall Glen Johnson’s scathing assessment of him in a 2019 radio interview as an example of the negativity surrounding him.
He also recently revealed that it could all have been very different and that a move back to West Brom was, temporarily at least, on the cards when Darren Moore was the manager, as reported by Stoke-on-Trent Live.
With a new baby, and a new life in Belgium, things could well be looking up for the forward. He might not have become the striker many of us thought he would be, but he still has time to carve out positive memories in his eventful footballing career.
You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992