West Brom ready to test Barnsley’s resolve to keep Valerien Ismael

WEST BROM remain in ongoing discussions with Barnsley head coach Valerien Ismael about a move to The Hawthorns.

Valerien Ismael, Barnsley FC manager, is wanted by West Brom (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)
Valerien Ismael, Barnsley FC manager, is wanted by West Brom (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

The Midlands outfit are willing to meet a £2m release clause in the Frenchman’s contract enabling him to join the club, and are confident about the prospect of being able to lure him away from Oakwell.

Ismael, who has two years left on his deal at Barnsley, was targeted earlier this week by Albion after failed moves to bring in former Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder and ex-Huddersfield Town chief David Wagner, who has since joined Swiss outfit Young Boys.

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Several other candidates including Lincoln City manager and former Baggies midfielder Michael Appleton and ex-Preston chief Alex Neil have also been sounded out about the position.

Ismael was an early contender for the vacant role, but was ruled out because of concerns over his style of football held by sporting and technical director Luke Dowling.

But Dowling’s exit from the club by mutual consent has prompted a reappraisal of the credentials of Ismael.

Several remaining directors and chief executive Xu Ke have identified the 45-year-old as the man they want to replace Sam Allardyce, having been impressed by Ismael’s outstanding work with a modest budget at Oakwell.

Ismael performed heroics last term in a superb 2020-21 Championship season which saw Barnsley swap a relegation fight the previous season for a surprise promotion quest.

They bowed out of the Championship play-offs in the semi-finals after a narrow 2-1 aggregate loss to Swansea City.

Speaking after the second leg in Wales, the former LASK Linz head coach – who joined the club in late October – spoke about needing time to reflect before focusing on the future.

Ismael, whose sterling feats at Oakwell have seen him considered for several recent vacant managerial roles including former club Crystal Palace and Sheffield United, said: “We have time to prepare and see what is going on in the future. But at the minute, we will reflect on the season and we will see.

“I gave everything and now it is time to reflect on this. I want to thank everyone at the club and the staff for their commitment.”

Speaking about the future of Ismael earlier this month, Reds chief executive officer Dane Murphy commented: “There is always going to be interest after the season we had and calibre of manager he is with the way he is able to lift the group week in week out.

“It is very appealing and should be to a lot of clubs in and around Europe.

“I think he knows this is a great place for him. Eventually, at some point, maybe there is another step in his career. But right now, it does not get much better.”