Barnsley captain Alex Mowatt wants to stay at Oakwell beyond this current transfer window and is considering the latest offer to extend his contract, says head coach Valerien Ismael.
Mowatt’s contract is due to expire at the end of this season and Ismael has said extending it is the Reds’ top priority in the window.
The head coach revealed yesterday that the Reds had rejected an offer for Mowatt from another club but said that keeping him for the season was more important than cashing in to avoid losing him for nothing in the summer.
The 25-year-old central midfielder is approaching 150 games for the club, having signed four years ago this month from Leeds United, while he is the second top-scorer this season with four goals.
Ismael told the Chronicle: “We don’t want him to leave and Alex doesn’t want to leave. He has told me he wants to stay.
“We have made a bid to him to extend his contract and we are waiting.”
The head coach added: “He played so far a great season. We checked an offer from another club.
“We made a good offer, Alex needs to think about this which is normal.
“We give everything to keep him here because he is very important to the club. It could be very important to extend his contract – that’s why I told the club we have to do everything to keep him.
“This is a normal situation in football. In some situations money is not all. Alex Mowatt is more than only selling and buying. We have to be aware of this. He is a special player.
“It is worth waiting to try to extend his contract even if this is after the transfer window. I have a good chat with him and we are all focused.
“He is in a good situation and he has to decide but our purpose is to fight until the end so he signs a new contract.
“It is a fight to keep Alex but I am a fighter and he will not leave without a fight.”
Asked if there is a timeframe for Mowatt to decide, Ismael told the Chronicle: “We don’t want to put pressure on him. He has to focus on his performances on the pitch but we are working behind the scenes with Dane (Murphy, chief executive) to try everything to get an extension as quick as possible. We have time and we don’t want to use the last two weeks of the window to put pressure on Alex.”
The Reds are also focused on keeping their other star players in the window.
Chief executive Dane Murphy has repeatedly insisted the likes of Mowatt, Cauley Woodrow and Callum Styles will not be sold.
Top-scorer Woodrow has netted ten goals this season and has been the subject of interest from other clubs in previous windows. The 26-year-old is contracted until 2023 while the Reds are understood to owe a substantial sell-on fee to his previous club Fulham.
Styles, who is a central midfielder but has excelled at left wing-back, is contracted until 2024 but the Chronicle understands at least three Premier League clubs are monitoring him and considering an approach.
Championship rivals Brentford are also thought to be considering a bid.
Ismael said: “It is only noise. There is nothing in this situation. But it is normal. Callum Styles, Cauley Woodrow, Mads, Michal Helik – they all played very well and it’s normal they are on the list of another club. We are not ready to move someone. We want to keep the guys together and it will be better for them in the summer.”
The Reds last week brought in centre-back Liam Kitching and striker Carlton Morris, both of whom were cup-tied for Sunday’s FA Cup win over Tranmere Rovers. Those were Barnsley’s primary targets in the window but they are still considering further moves with extra depth in the front three thought to be of interest. Ismael told the Chronicle: “We have done our job. We have made new signings.
“We stay patient and, if we have to do something, we will. This is our mindset now for the window.
“At the end of January, it is always hectic and we will see what happens. But we have made the transfers we wanted and we are now focusing more on the games.”
Barnsley have already trimmed their squad this window by cancelling the contract of Jordan Green by mutual consent and sending his fellow winger Elliot Simoes on loan to League One Doncaster Rovers for the remainder of the season.
They are expected to let other players leave either on loan or permanently.
Ismael told the Chronicle: “We will see what happens.
“For sure some players want to play more and find a solution. We are ready to speak with them about that.”
Winger Luke Thomas, 21, has been linked with a move to various League One clubs but has been involved in recent games.
Ismael said: “We are delighted with his development. He wants, like every player, to start every game but we have a lot of quality. Every time he plays, he does his job well. He has to stay focused. We have a lot of games and he will have his time to play.”
Isaac Christie-Davies, the midfielder who signed a three-year deal last summer, is yet to make his debut and was not on the bench against Tranmere but scored a fine goal for the under 23s the next day.
Striker Patrick Schmidt’s only action in the last 14 matches was a brief appearance as a substitute in the loss at Norwich City last week due to the absence of other forwards because of Covid-19 precautions.
The 22-year-old Austrian has made 40 appearances since signing from Admira Wacker at the start of last season but has started just four league matches.
He has been a regular on the bench including on Sunday but could lose his place to Morris. Striker George Miller could also be loaned out.
The window closesin 17 days, on Monday, February 1.