Albion coach Kevin Keen today revealed how summer signing Nicolas Anelka is helping young Baggies hotshot Saido Berahino make his mark on the Premier League.
Anelka has struggled to kick-start his own Baggies career since his high-profile arrival on a free transfer in the summer. But Keen believes the Frenchman is playing a key role in the development of Berahino, who is in talks over a new contract after making an explosive start to his first-team career.
“Nicolas is fantastic in the group,” said Keen. “It is not just about his demonstration or enthusiasm, or the way he plays the game and his technique, he speaks to Saido on a regular basis.
“There is no doubt Saido and Matej Vydra will improve from working with Nicolas, as Romelu Lukaku did last year by working with the likes of Shane Long, Marco Fortune and Peter Odemwingie.
“So it’s not just about what the media or supporters see on a Saturday – there is a much bigger role that Nicolas plays at this club and I think he’s been fantastic for us.
“There is a bigger microscope on him than, say, Markus Rosenberg or Vydra but I see him train and I see the contribution he makes in the games.
“Is he a different player to the one we saw at Arsenal, Liverpool and when he was younger? Of course he is. But his qualities are still there for everyone to see.
It’s great for Saido to see his movement, his touch and his finishing.”
Anelka is yet to find the net for Albion and his Premier League displays have failed to capture the imagination of fans despite an impressive pre-season.
But Keen said: “My view is that he’s had a big part to play in the run of games where we’ve done well.
“The head coach will use him as and when he thinks he’s needed.
“He’s a great part of the squad and he’s a super person to have around the place.
“You’d have to ask him whether he’s frustrated. I would think he’s a little bit disappointed but he’s made a big contribution to the season so far and he’ll make bigger contributions going forward.”