The 25-year-old, understood to be wanted by Nottingham Forest, joined the Reds just a couple of hours after James Bree’s departure to Aston Villa was confirmed in an initial £2m deal.
Conor Hourihane is also wanted by Villa manager Steve Bruce, hence the need for Barnsley to move quickly and bring in a midfielder capable of making an impact in the Championship.
“Matty is a player that we have tracked for a while,” said Heckingbottom. “He has shown a real passion and desire to be here and help the club continue our rise up the league and that’s exactly what we need at Barnsley.
“He will fit straight into the mentality that we already have within the squad and adds much needed quality as well as versatility to our midfield areas. He brings Premier League experience along with a knowledge of how to get promoted in the Football League as well.
“We have brought in a player who is hugely experienced and talented so I am delighted that we have got the deal done. I know that there was other interest and we had to fight that off but, ultimately, it was Matty’s decision and he picked to join us. This shows that we can attract players from the best league in the world.”
Bree’s exit caps a meteoric rise for an Academy graduate who was also on the radar of several Premier League clubs. The 19-year-old opted for Villa Park after sitting down with Bruce and yesterday he signed a four-and-a-half year deal.
“When I met him (Bruce) I knew straight away that he was a manager I wanted to work with,” added Bree. “It was a tough decision to leave but it is a massive club I am joining. I have been at Barnsley since I was young and it has helped me develop. I will always be grateful.”
Elsewhere in the Championship, Aaron Mooy and Tareiq Holmes-Dennis have both returned to training to give Huddersfield Town a boost ahead of Saturday’s trip to Rochdale in the FA Cup.
International clearance has also been received for Collin Quaner following his £500,000 switch from Union Berlin last week, meaning the striker could also be involved at Spotland.
Meanwhile, Paul Warne has confirmed Rotherham United have made three “serious” bids for players ahead of next Tuesday’s deadline.