Albion youngster Saido Berahino was today closing in on a new big-money Hawthorns contract after a fresh round of talks with Baggies officials.
The club hope to tie the 20-year-old down to a new deal in the near future, ending unwanted speculation about his future.
Berahino’s wages are expected to rocket from their current level of around £850-per-week to more than £10,000 with the Baggies looking to snare the England Under-21s star on a long-term agreement.
The Burundi-born forward’s sudden emergence on the first-team scene and his heroics for Gareth Southgate’s Under-21s team have caught the attention of a host of other top-flight clubs.
But Albion boss Steve Clarke has insisted repeatedly that Berahino would agree an extension to his current contract – and the head coach’s confidence now looks set to be rewarded after a breakthrough in negotiations.
The former Peterborough loanee’s current deal expires at the end of the season – but Albion have an option to keep him for a further year, meaning he was effectively already tied to the Baggies for another 21 months.
However, the prospective new deal would reward the Hawthorns academy graduate for a remarkable rise that saw him hit a hat-trick on his full debut in the Capital One Cup game against Newport County, net his first Premier League goal to seal an historic win at Manchester United and go on a scoring spree early in his England Under-21s career.
The news comes on the day that assistant head coach Kevin Keen revealed the role veteran summer signing Nicolas Anelka is playing in Berahino’s development.
The Frenchman has struggled to kick-start his own Albion career since arriving on a free transfer, but Keen said: “Nicolas is fantastic in the group.
“It is not just about his determination or enthusiasm, or the way he plays the game and his technique, but he speaks to Saido on a regular basis.
“There is no doubt Saido and Matej Vydra will improve as Romelu Lukaku did last year from working with the likes of Shane Long, Marco Fortune and Peter Odemwingie.”
Meanwhile, Morgan Amalfitano (knee) is a doubt for Saturday’s Hawthorns clash with Crystal Palace while Scott Sinclair (hamstring) is given an ‘outside chance’ of returning to the squad. The winger was injured at Manchester United last month.