BARNSLEY look set to go well into the final week of the transfer window still looking for the ‘one to three’ signings they want to make in January.
The Reds have done very little business so far, moving on a few fringe players while making no signings.
There were not thought to be any deals imminent, as of yesterday, but they are hopeful of strengthening their midfield and possibly the attack before the deadline a week on Monday.
Chief executive Khaled El-Ahmad spoke to the Supporters’ Trust this week.
Asked how many they were looking to sign, he said: “Between one and three but it depends on who goes out and in.”
El-Ahmad confirmed that the Reds would be due a sell-on fee if Oakwell academy graduate Mason Holgate is sold by Everton this window.
They are also looking to generate funds by selling or loaning players who are not currently playing.
Dutch media reported earlier in the week that striker Obbi Oulare was close to a return to his former club Willem II, in the Netherlands, but the Chronicle understands that is not accurate.
However, he is understood to be one player the Reds are looking to move on, having made just two substitute appearances since signing last summer.
Defender Toby Sibbick is also likely to be moved on but it is not yet clear when or who to.
El-Ahmad said the Reds had rejected bids for first team regulars in this window ‘because we want to compete and stay in the league and we think it’s the best place for the players to develop.’
The likes of Michal Helik, Mads Andersen, Callum Brittain, Callum Styles and Brad Collins are thought to be of interest to other clubs.
Head coach Poya Asbaghi, who has had 14 first team players in training this week due to Covid-19 cases and injuries, told the Chronicle: “The maths speaks for itself.
“We can’t lose anyone, we need players coming into the squad.
“We will have a tight schedule from now into February and March and even April, with a lot of games, so we will need a bigger squad.
“We need to bring in more players than we lose, that’s for sure.”
Asbaghi admitted earlier in the window that he would like a new central midfielder while the Reds are also thought to be looking for a new striker.
Captain Cauley Woodrow, their top-scorer in the league with four, had knee surgery last week and is expected to be out until March at the earliest.
That leaves the Reds with few regular scorers other than Carlton Morris who has four in five.
El-Ahmad said: “I can assure you the club is doing everything they can on bringing players in and reviewing the squad balance of who should go out and come in.
“There are some factors we cannot control and some things take a lot longer than others. Collectively we have identified that we need midfielders and then possibly an offensive reinforcement, especially with Woodrow being out and with Covid cases.
“The real goal of staying in the division is not just to look at one, two or the players who will keep us in the league, it is what Poya and Ferran (Sibila, assistant coach) do with the players on the pitch every day and what everyone around the club does.
“It’s a collective effort to make sure we have the best opportunity to stay in the division.”
Asbaghi added: “Right now, with the amount of players we have available, we need players.
“One way is to get our players back from injury or Covid but another is to recruit from outside. I hope we soon have more than we have available right now. I think we need to strengthen overall but I agree we need players in those positions (midfield and up front).”
The Reds have waited three weeks to sign a player so far.
El-Ahmad said: “We have a financial model that means sometimes we need to be creative and need more time to get the right player.
“We have to be a bit picky to make sure the players’ attributes are correct.
“I can feel the negativity about that but no one wants to be in this situation.
“We are all doing what we can to give us the best possible opportunity to stay in the league.”
El-Ahmad said the Reds would mainly be looking at domestic signings.
“It’s quicker for them to adapt, they are in-season and in-form and it’s not a long way.”
Barnsley decided not to bring back loan midfielder Herbie Kane who has impressed with League One Oxford United.
They have struggled in midfield this season with young players such as Styles, who has also been used in several other positions, Claudio Gomes, whose loan from Manchester City does not include an option to buy, Romal Palmer and Josh Benson.
El-Ahmad said: “The decision was that that is the best thing for Herbie because in the past he had been in and out of the squad and this is the first time he is getting regular minutes.
“Maybe it is also the best for the club when he comes back after a full season.
“We also looked at the type of player and we think Herbie is similar to what we have.
“The recruitment department has followed all the loan players and, when looking at Herbie, we felt the best for him to stay because we identified the midfielder we need is a bit different.”
So far, Barnsley have sold Ben Williams to Cheltenham Town and loaned Tomas Kalinauskas to AFC Wimbledon. Dominik Frieser’s contract was cancelled last month.
n More from El-Ahmad on page 21.