Barnsley v Bradford City: Reds chief Johnson refusing to be flooded by transfer ripple effect

IN DEMAND: John Stones.
IN DEMAND: John Stones.
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Lee Johnson says Barnsley will not “pay over the odds” in their hunt for new players.

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The South Yorkshire club are on the lookout for three new signings before the transfer window closes on September 1.

But with cash in the bank following teenager Mason Holgate’s £1m-plus exit to Premier League side Everton – plus a lucrative sell-on clause on Toffees defender John Stones – Johnson is aware the Tykes could see rival clubs inflate prices on transfer targets.

If Chelsea succeed in their summer pursuit of £30m-rated defender Stones, the Reds would land several million pounds under the deal which took the youngster to Merseyside.

But Johnson is determined Barnsley – who saw an approach for Blackburn Rovers midfielder John O’Sullivan rejected this week – will not pay inflated prices.

“You can almost falsely fabricate your own market,” Johnson told The Yorkshire Post. “The media comes out saying what you are getting, what you’ve got, what you haven’t got.

“Actually, people want a piece of that pie. That’s human nature.

“But we have been very consistent in what we have done and we won’t pay over the odds to what we value somebody at.

“That’s important, because if you pay over the odds for someone you think is not worth that much, then all of a sudden you have raised your bar to everybody else by 15 or 20 percent.

“It might over one transfer cost you a little bit more, but over five transfers it will cost another player, because you are over-paying.

“You also have wages, too. We now have a group which is very condensed, there’s not too much discrepancy in wages, so if somebody comes in on four times what everyone else is on – and doesn’t produce every single minute of every game – then that can lead to a bit of unhappiness in the squad.

“To bring someone in and pay over the odds, all of a sudden you are facing a mutiny.”

Asked whether Barnsley’s transfer targets relied on the possibility of cash from any Stones sale, Johnson replied: “A lot of variables come into it. We have different scenarios and have to adjust to what’s happening.”

Johnson revealed Barnsley had already identified potential recruits, but talks were ongoing behind the scenes to complete the deals.

“We would still like to bring in two or three players, whether we do or not, who knows,” said Johnson, who last week drafted in former Doncaster Rovers right-back Reece Wabara.

“If we do, then that’s sort of phase one complete, with the outs and the ins. But we will have to see,

“It’s not the searching, because we know the players. It’s getting deals over the line.

“It’s difficult for anybody in this scenario. You only have to look at the John Stones fiasco, the way it’s playing out, with all the big clubs.

“You do find all things in football have a ripple effect, albeit in their respective divisions.

“The way the transfer window is, and the prices, the way people expect fees to be paid, makes it very difficult. A lot happens now in the last couple of days of the window.

“But people can trust the players that we have brought in are looking decent, and we are very keen not to make too many mistakes.

“We are willing to be patient. I don’t want to talk specific positions, but we do need to bolster the squad with a couple, in my opinion.

“I wouldn’t say we are very close, but we are in the market and things change very quickly. By close, I mean today and I don’t see anything happening today.”

One player hoping to bounce back after a frustrating time with injury at Oakwell last season, is striker Sam Winnall.

The 24-year-old netted 13 goals despite missing large chunks with hamstring trouble.

He opened his account in the 3-2 midweek win at Millwall, and ahead of today’s Yorkshire derby with Bradford City, is keen to make up for lost time.

“I’m not at peak fitness yet, but I’m nearly there,” said former Scunthorpe United Winnall.

“I’ve been working hard to build up to peak fitness and, to be honest, I’m feeling great.

“I missed just under four months of last season, which was obviously very frustrating because there’s nothing worse than not being able to play,” he said.

“My injury came at a bad time as well because I’d scored eight goals in eight games, so I was playing well and feeling confident.

“But that’s the nature of football unfortunately. You have to deal with the setbacks and make sure you come back a stronger person, physically and mentally.

“A hamstring injury is quite a strange injury because you’re never really quote sure whether you’re 100 per cent until you really run on it.”