31 Mar Stoke knew the score
Stoke manager Mark Hughes insists the club knew Saido Berahino’s stance on his drugs ban from the outset after the former West Brom striker claimed his drink was spiked.
Berahino served an eight-week suspension earlier this season after failing a drugs test, which he has now said was due to his drink being spiked in a nightclub.
The 23-year-old did not play for West Brom between September and January, when he joined Stoke at the end of the transfer window for a deal worth £15million.
In an interview with BBC Football Focus, Berahino also said “No-one at the club (West Brom) protected me”, that he had become depressed and ended up hating being at the club he joined as an 11-year-old.
Hughes said: “That’s always been Saido’s stance and take on how the drug was in his system. There’s no reason to disbelieve him.
“We knew from the beginning when we first began that was always his stance, he’s never wavered from that. Maybe people will understand that happens in this day and age and a lot have been victims.
“There’s no reason to disbelieve him, it can happen.”
Meanwhile, West Brom boss Tony Pulis refused to be drawn on Berahino’s claim the club did not support him. He insists the Albion academy product is entitled to his opinion and thinks people will come to their own conclusions over the matter.
“We all have our opinions,” said Pulis. “I’ve got nothing else to say. Saido is a human being, he’s got a right to air his opinion but I’d rather talk about West Bromwich Albion and the players here.
“I don’t want to go into it, honestly. It’s nothing. If Saido has an opinion Saido is entitled to that opinion. If he wants to say that and that’s his view, that’s fine.
“People have got to make a decision. They’ve got to decide. They’re all sensible enough to know whether we did look after him or not. I will leave it to them.
“Saido has got to do what Saido has got to do. It’s nothing to do with me.”
Berahino’s turbulent time at West Brom was brought to an end in January when he signed a five-and-a-half-year deal at Stoke, who had tried to sign him during previous transfer windows.
The striker had threatened to go on strike in a rant on Twitter after Albion turned down a bid from Tottenham in the summer of 2015. When he returned to the team his form dipped but Premier League clubs continued to be interested in signing him.
A move did not materialise though until this season and both managers now agree it is time to move on from the matter.
Hughes said: “We keep on trying to move on. It’s just a little bit more meat on the bone from my point of view from the actual situation and how it came about to be honest.
“It happened in the past, we’re all moving on. He’s playing again, doing well.”
While Pulis also wanted to look forward, adding : “He had six months of a contract left, Stoke paid £15million to take him, he wanted to go and we were delighted with the deal. Finished. Let’s move on.”
Berahino has played six times for Stoke since his move, including a substitute appearance against West Brom at The Hawthorns last month when he was booed by home fans in a 1-0 win for Albion.