Hughes braced for Ber­ahino trans­fer bat­tle with Spurs

Stoke ready to com­pete for West Brom striker Vet­eran keeper Given in line to face Tot­ten­ham

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE - By John Percy

Mark Hughes, the Stoke City man­ager, is ready to ri­val Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur in the £20 mil­lion chase for Saido Ber­ahino this sum­mer.

Hughes will re­new his in­ter­est in the West Bromwich Al­bion striker but ad­mits he may not be able to com­pete with Spurs, who face Stoke at the Bri­tan­nia Sta­dium tonight.

Stoke and Tot­ten­ham both con­sid­ered bids for Ber­ahino in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow but were told by Jeremy Peace, the West Brom chair­man, that he was not for sale. Spurs made four of­fers to sign the Eng­land Un­der-21 in­ter­na­tional last sum­mer and are ex­pected to re­vive their at­tempt to bring him to White Hart Lane when the sea­son ends.

Hughes has con­ceded that he could miss out on sign­ing Ber­ahino if Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino, the Spurs man­ager, makes an­other move.

“By all ac­counts Spurs will al­ways have an in­ter­est in quite a few play­ers we are in­ter­ested in,” Hughes said. “There are play­ers out there who you ex­press an in­ter­est in – but be­cause they are good play­ers there will al­ways be other teams in­volved.

“If we’re be­ing re­al­is­tic, if a player has a choice of Spurs or Stoke, then we could pitch up and make a good case for them to come here but they may feel Spurs is a more at­trac­tive op­tion and we have to ac­cept that.”

Hughes is weigh­ing up whether to play goal­keeper Shay Given tonight in a game that could have a huge bear­ing on the Premier League ti­tle race.

Given, 40 this week, has been over­looked in favour of rookie keeper Jakob Hau­gaard af­ter Jack But­land was ruled out for the sea­son with a bro­ken an­kle. But Hau­gaard con­ceded four goals at Liver­pool in Stoke’s last game and Given may make his first league ap­pear­ance since May.

Hughes said: “Clean sheets help. We haven’t had that con­ti­nu­ity of the same back four, back five weekin, week-out and that will have an im­pact on your abil­ity to keep clean sheets.”

Peter Crouch, the Stoke and for­mer Tot­ten­ham striker, said: “I would love to see Tot­ten­ham win the Premier League. Ob­vi­ously it would be in­cred­i­ble if Le­ices­ter were to do it too for so many rea­sons, but for me, hav­ing spent a good pe­riod of my ca­reer at White Hart Lane, I would like Spurs to nick it.”

In de­mand: Saido Ber­ahino is a tar­get for Stoke and Tot­ten­ham this sum­mer

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