BARNSLEY manager Keith Hill has told Newcastle United to ‘move now or miss out’ on Jacob Butterfield.
The race for Butterfield, who has not played for over three months due to a cruciate knee ligament injury, is hotting up with newly-promoted Reading and promotion chasers Southampton and Blackpool also chasing his signature.
The highly-rated midfielder, who will be out of contract in the summer, rejected a new deal at Oakwell but the Tykes, under FIFA rules, will still be entitled to compensation because he is under the age of 24.
Barnsley manager Hill thinks Newcastle, who are fifth in the Premier League and chasing a place in the Champions League, need to make a decision quickly before the other clubs take a lead in negotiations.
“If Newcastle want him, they should phone Don Rowing (Barnsley’s general manager) and say ‘Listen, we want Jacob Butterfield. We are willing to make this financial offer for his services’ because I know full well that teams within the top four of the Championship are 100 per cent trying to recruit Jacob Butterfield.
“One of those teams may have already been promoted and two of them have a chance of being promoted.
“I would endorse Newcastle actually making a decision. In the football world, there are a lot of people who won’t and a lot of people who don’t want to decide. If you carry on ‘waiting’ you may as well work in a restaurant.”
Butterfield, 21, earned attention this season when his performances as Barnsley captain helped push his hometown club towards the Championship play-off zone.
He won his first call-up to the England Under-21 squad and was also put on standby for Great Britain’s Olympic football squad.
But his season and Olympic dream were brought to an abrupt halt on his 100th appearance for Barnsley – against Leeds United on New Year’s Eve – following a challenge by Michael Brown.
Barnsley’s results dipped alarmingly in his absence but they secured Championship survival this week with two games to go.
General manager Rowing admits that Butterfield’s injury absence could also result in Barnsley missing out on full compensation.
“It’s very difficult to know (what the compensation will be) because of the fact that he is going onto the market on the back of a very bad injury,” said Rowing.
“Although the prognosis is very, very good, I’m sure the tribunal will take that into account or the other club will try to play on that in order to get the best deal they can.
“We are going to have to put our case and we have got everything ready in case that does happen. Hopefully, we will get a good deal for the football club but it is very, very difficult to put a figure on it.”
Commenting on possible interest from Newcastle, Rowing said: “We are hearing rumours that he has already agreed a deal with one of the Premiership clubs – although we have not had any rhetoric with that particular club which does annoy us to a degree. There is very little you can do until such time as his contract terminates unless the club comes to you and actually offers you a figure. Until such time as they make contact, we cannot confirm anything.”