Barnsley FC sporting director Mladen Sormaz on summer transfer window priorities, key exits and prospect of further departures at League One club

MLADEN Sormaz insists that Barnsley will be under no pressure to sell any leading players this summer following their failure to be promoted back to the Championship.

The Reds are instigating plans for a third successive season at League One level for the first time since 2005-06.

Their squad has been significantly depleted by the departure of several key figures who chose to leave the club at the end of their current deals.

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Jordan Williams, Devante Cole, Herbie Kane and Nicky Cadden all depart - with Barnsley not getting a penny in return, while having to replace them.

Barnsley sporting director Mladen Sormaz. Picture courtesy of Barnsley FC.Barnsley sporting director Mladen Sormaz. Picture courtesy of Barnsley FC.
Barnsley sporting director Mladen Sormaz. Picture courtesy of Barnsley FC.

Bringing in replacements of requisite quality won’t come easy, while some existing contracted players could also receive interest in the close season.

They include Portuguese under-19 striker Fabio Jalo and midfielders Adam Phillips and Luca Connell.

In January, Jalo, 18 - whose form has been monitored by leading clubs at home and abroad - signed a new contract committing his future at Oakwell until June 2027, with the club having an option to add an extra year.

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Connell’s four-year deal runs until the end of 2026-27, while Phillips’ deal expires in the summer of 2026.

Sporting director Sormaz said: “I’ll be honest, in general we don’t want to sell anyone.

"Most of the time with our best players, someone has to come in with silly money for any of our best players to leave.

"The good thing is that we have got our best players locked down on long-term contracts, so we’ve got leverage.

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"But we don’t want anyone who can contribute next season, especially at the top end of League One, to leave. Offers could come in, that can always happen in football. But we don’t have any plans to sell.”

Incoming as opposed to outgoing transfers are likely to be the major thrust during the summer window.

Alongside four main departures, the Reds - who remain keen on bringing former captain Conor Hourihane back to the club after his release from Derby - have also lost influential loanees John McAtee and Liam Roberts.

Sormaz added: "We think, when you look at the core of the team when everyone’s fit, that defensively we are strong. We obviously need a new left back/wing-back, tying down a permanent solution for a keeper and Devante and Kane’s replacements.

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"But with the rest of the personnel, we want to keep where it is. I think a lot of the rest of the first team can contribute next season going forward. There will be some changes for sure, but we are not looking for turnover for the sake of turnover and we are really focused on bringing in players who are better and are going to improve us for starters and then doing what is best for the rest of the squad."

On the prospect of Roberts - out of contract at Middlesbrough - returning, he said: “Anyone who performed well last season, we are exploring that avenue. It’s up to them with what else is on the market and whether they want to come back.

"I think he had a good time. We’ll work on that one.”

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