Tony Pulis has told Saido Berahino that performing to his ability for West Brom will earn him the top-four move he craves.
Berahino has been a bit-part player for the Baggies this season after taking to Twitter in September to say he would never play for chairman Jeremy Peace again.
The 22-year-old was angry that Albion had rejected a series of bids from Tottenham, while in January they turned down a £21million offer from Newcastle.
On Friday he finally apologised for his strike threat and a day later showed the talent he undoubtedly possesses by inspiring West Brom to a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace, scoring his first Premier League goal since October.
Now Pulis wants Berahino to build on that for the rest of the season prior to the reopening of the transfer window in the summer.
The Baggies boss accepts his player’s ambitions lie away from The Hawthorns, and is not about to criticise him for that.
Pulis said: “If he plays half the season now like he did (against Palace), everybody will start talking about him. His mind is clear and he is set on his football again.
“I have had lots of conversations with him. It has not been a short period. This has been over three windows. Every window that opens up, he gets driven in a direction that maybe a more experienced or stronger character would deal with.
“He is a young lad, and he speaks to a lot of people and a lot speak to him. He gets pushed from pillar to post. You can speak to him, you think you have got him, and all of a sudden you lose him again.
“He is not a bad lad. I have been round to his house, I have met his mum, they are nice people.
“The most important thing is that he has a God-given gift and he should squeeze the pips from it, and have a great, great career.
“Everything will follow, whether now, tomorrow or the next day. If he is playing well, he will get the recognition. And the move. He wants to play for a top-four team.
“I don’t think it is the money, it is the opportunity and the chance to show how good he is. You can’t take that from the boy. You can’t tell him not to want that.
“It makes people become stronger and better. He is a driven person, he has that ambition. You don’t want to take that from him.
“He can’t go anywhere, he is with us now, and he has to get himself fit and put himself in that position again that he was last summer. If it happens, it happens. If not, he has to keep playing and that is what he has done.”
Baggies captain Darren Fletcher said Berahino had “never been a problem in the dressing room” but has seen a change in the striker’s attitude.
“He’ll feel he could’ve been fitter at the start of the season,” said Fletcher. “There’s no doubt about that. It’s difficult to play Premier League games when you’re not on top of your fitness levels.
“But he’s got them back and he’s back in the team. He’s got his head down and he’s hungry to score goals and do well. It’s good to see him fit and showing what a good player he is.”