EXCLUSIVE Jermaine Jenas: Berahino saga shows players are paying price for overlong transfer window

West Brom's Saido Berahino looks dejected after missing a chance to score against Watford
West Brom's Saido Berahino looks dejected after missing a chance to score against Watford

The former England, Tottenham and Newcastle midfielder writes exclusively for Yahoo as our Football Ambassador

Saido Berahino's omission from West Brom's squad on Sunday, amid a backdrop of frenzied speculation about him signing for Tottenham, is a sign that the rumours have got to him. Tony Pulis hinted as much when he became the latest boss to express his anger about the way the transfer window can disrupt a team's start to the season. Earlier this month, Everton's Roberto Martinez - facing a similar battle with John Stones - voiced the same opinion.
    
I agree with them both: the timing of the window needs to be reviewed, but for the sake of the players and not just the managers.

Every time I signed for a new club it was on deadline day, and I always found the process unhealthy. The biggest - and most frustrating - transfer of my career was when I moved from Newcastle to Tottenham. Not only did the timing of it affect my form at St James's Park; it also hampered the start of my Spurs career.

LONDON - FEBRUARY 24: Jermaine Jenas of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates victory following the Carling Cup Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on February 24, 2008 in London, England. Tottenham Hotspur won 2-1 after extra time. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON - FEBRUARY 24: Jermaine Jenas of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates victory following the Carling Cup Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on February 24, 2008 in London, England. Tottenham Hotspur won 2-1 after extra time. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)


At the time, I'd decided I couldn't stay at Newcastle under the Graeme Souness regime - I was being played out of position and I didn't like the way I was being managed as a young player. Once the season began, my head wasn't in the right place because I didn't know whether I'd be staying or leaving. One minute it was, "You're going to Arsenal," then it was "You're going to Tottenham". I was sick of it. And it meant the last thing I was focusing on was my football. Sometimes I sulked - I even walked out of training on one occasion - all due to confusion about what was going on with my career.

But if the window had been closed when that season started, I would have been in a very different place. I actually began the campaign lining up in an excellent midfield alongside Scott Parker and Kieron Dyer. It was a prospect that excited me, but once the Arsenal and Tottenham  talk started, my head was turned. I thought playing for either of those teams would give me a better opportunity of going to that summer's World Cup, because I felt I couldn't trust the management at Newcastle.

In that situation you also come into contact with players from the clubs chasing you, and obviously players will talk. When I was on England duty as a Newcastle player, the Tottenham boys like Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe were telling me good things about the club and saying it would be great if I signed.


I tried to maintain professionalism, but it's difficult. And Stones will be going through something similar now, while Chelsea chase him.

Unlike Berahino, he is still in the team and apparently unfazed. But in the back of his mind, he's probably thinking, 'I would love to go and play for Chelsea'. For Stones and his family, everything about going to Chelsea is positive. He'll be at a bigger club, competing to win the league and Champions League and - let's not beat around the bush -  he'll be getting more money. That's the way the game is. So in every aspect it's a step up.

[Premier League - Baggies turn down Berahino request]

There are reasons for him to stay at Everton too. Firstly, his England place - we still don't know if he would start every week at Chelsea. Plus he may feel some loyalty to Martinez, who broke up the strong Phil Jagielka-Sylvain Distin defensive partnership to give Stones his chance.  But loyalty is a rare commodity in modern football. Really it all depends on how far Chelsea push it and what Stones actually wants.

It reminds of when Chelsea made repeated bids for a team-mate of mine at Tottenham, Luka Modric. He was adamant that he wanted to go, but after Daniel Levy refused to sell him he got over it very quickly and it didn't affect his form at all. He remained professional, stayed the whole season and played a key role - finally getting his move to Real Madrid the following year. But it takes a certain type of person to be able to do that, and it's also a risk. You're relying on making it through that season unscathed and maintaining your form.

Mandzukic im Duell mit Modric
Mandzukic im Duell mit Modric


It's the same risk Stones will be taking if he stays with Everton. Chelsea might look elsewhere. They may decide to get Raphael Varane or Mats Hummels or Jerome Boateng instead - who knows - and that's his move gone.

Contrast Modric's approach to when Dimitar Berbatov was the subject of a £30m bid from Manchester United while we were at Spurs. He'd come out for training but he'd just be walking around. Before anyone points out that was just standard Berbatov, this was different. It was Berbatov in ultra-chilled mode. He wouldn't talk much or really smile at anyone, he would literally just stand around. Essentially he was just turning up to training to avoid getting fined, and his message to the club was pretty clear: you can tell by the way I'm training that you're not going to get anything out of me, so just let me go to Man Utd.

The funny thing is, there wasn't a single player on the training pitch who held that against him. If anything, the lads were watching the situation to see what would happen if one of the world's biggest clubs ever came in for them. To find out whether we were at a club that wouldn't allow you to progress in your career.

The Berbatov/Berahino approach is not something players frown upon. That's because many in that situation would do the same thing. I don't exclude myself from that. If one of the top Champions League clubs comes in for you at a certain time, you'd be daft not to do what it takes to get out.

Libre depuis son départ de l'AS Monaco, Dimitar Berbatov (34 ans) pourrait rebondir à Aston Villa. Selon le Daily Express, l'attaquant bulgare intéresse fortement Tim Sherwood, l'entraîneur des Villans.
Libre depuis son départ de l'AS Monaco, Dimitar Berbatov (34 ans) pourrait rebondir à Aston Villa. Selon le Daily Express, l'attaquant bulgare intéresse fortement Tim Sherwood, l'entraîneur des Villans.


I was with the England camp on deadline day when I finally got my move away from Newcastle. I saw I had a missed call, then one of the England staff told me, "Something's happening. You need to speak to your agent and then hit the road." But when I arrived at Spurs, I was at an immediate disadvantage. Because the window was so long and everything at Newcastle had been so up in the air, I simply hadn't prepared properly for the season.

A good friend of mine at Spurs now, Aaron Lennon, has been cast away into the Under-21s, and he knows Tottenham always do most of their transfer business on the last day. He has missed a whole pre-season and training at a top competitive level with first-team players , but if he does manage to get a move then people will expect him to hit the ground running. It's not right.

In the case of Berahino, all the signs scream of a player who is desperate to leave West Brom, whether it's to Tottenham or somewhere else. And the sad thing about the transfer window is that the player who kicks up the biggest fuss will be the one that gets their move. If Berahino says he's injured and refuses to play, West Brom have little option but to sell him. But if Stones stays professional and carries on playing well, Everton will be delighted to keep him - and he may miss out on his big move.

The window being this late doesn't benefit anyone: buying clubs, selling clubs or the players. And it's inexcusable because there's so much time to get business done in the summer period. It's not a straightforward system to amend - and to a degree the Premier League's hands are tied because our window corresponds with the other major leagues in Europe - but it's clear that something needs to change.