Why Barnsley are first to test the water across the pond

Stateside signing: Daryl Dike. Picture: Emilee Chinn/Getty ImagesStateside signing: Daryl Dike. Picture: Emilee Chinn/Getty Images
Stateside signing: Daryl Dike. Picture: Emilee Chinn/Getty Images
FOR Barnsley, the signing of Daryl Dike could well offer a tantalising glimpse into the future, according to Dane Murphy.

The Reds chief executive is well sourced when it comes to contacts in his homeland regarding emerging US players and across the wider North America region.

The club’s database of players potentially on their radar extends into South America, a market which is widely expected to be increasingly tapped into by many clubs in England.

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Britain’s exit from the European Union has led to changes in the Football Association’s visa rules for overseas players and is expected to have a significant effect on the recruitment strategies of clubs – with the end of freedom of movement in the United Kingdom for EU citizens meaning that clubs will no longer be able to sign players from European countries freely.

The new criteria is expected to lead to an increase in the number of players arriving in the Premier League and EFL from non-EU nations and in particular from the Americas.

Barnsley’s move for Dike, who has come in from Orlando City on loan for the rest of the season, represents the club’s first successful foray into the MLS. Although it has not been for the want of trying previously.

With Saturday’s match against Derby being postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Oakwell, Murphy told The Yorkshire Post: “North and South America, Mexico, the US, Canada and the big leagues of Argentina and Brazil are markets that the club have been looking into, even before I arrived. They are markets where we will see if we can execute things.

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“It has been difficult with the changes with immigration policy and the ability to get some players in, they have to be on a very high calibre.

“We have (previously) tried on several other MLS players, but just did not get across the line. But it is a market which is flourishing and you have seen how well Americans and Canadians are doing throughout Europe.

“I think it is only going to get better and is something we will continue to keep a close eye on and continue to try and exploit.”

Dike’s high-profile arrival – with the signing receiving the green light after the forward made his USA international debut last Sunday to enable him to meet immigration criteria rules to come to England – topped and tailed a January transfer window which refreshingly went to plan for Barnsley.

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It was a far cry from last January when the club were scrambling around to bring in defensive cover on the last day of the winter window in 2020, only to be thwarted.

This time around, Barnsley got their ducks in a row early by bringing in leading targets Carlton Morris and Liam Kitching and then moved swiftly and under the radar after learning about Dike’s situation changing at the end of the window.

Just as importantly, the club kept hold of their key players, most notably captain Alex Mowatt and midfielder Callum Styles, while also shipping out a number of players on the fringes.

The latest move saw Patrick Schmidt return to his native Austria to join FC Ried on loan for the rest of 2020-21 ahead of the Austrian transfer deadline today.

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Murphy added: “We approached this window pretty diligently with a lot of forethought. We wanted to get things down early and not have to scramble.

“We don’t like doing things at the last minute. It tends to happen sometimes in windows and January is always a weird one, with this one probably being the strangest of all. Getting Liam and Carlton in early was very important in terms of strengthening and helping us with depth.

“The second half charge is going to be hard with a lot of games coming in fast and a lot of matches.

“Then we wanted those players who were on the fringes and not getting an opportunity to play to gain experience and growth and find opportunities to get minutes on the field. I think we were able to do that in a pretty systematic way.

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“January is always strange and a weird window. We had conversations and one bid in for Alex Mowatt, but it did not hit any markers and was not appetising and would not help us in the short-term or long-term.

“Alex is also an integral part and we did not want to lose him. We have been clear about that.”

On whether the club fielded any other enquiries for their leading players, Murphy continued: “There was interest in other players, but nothing concrete and nothing came across to say we have to consider this and talk about it.

“Because of the success we are having and how well we are playing, we have had more interests or at least calls taking the temperature on our players since I have been here.

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“But there was nothing substantial for any of our players and we thought it would be better for the club to keep them and see what the summer looks like when everything is stable and people are financially in a better place and the world is a little bit more back to normal.

“Not a lot of people were willing to actually move their players out and find replacements or find a solution. Clubs were more concerned with keeping their positions in league tables and making sure they could sustain it and look towards 2021-22, which is completely understandable.

“It was more: ‘how is everything going; what is the situation with this player?’ But not a lot of ‘what can we do to get that player, here is an offer.’ It was more a case of how is the land lying.”

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