West Bromwich Albion are close to appointing Valerien Ismael as the new manager at The Hawthorns.
That’s according to a report by Football Insider, who claim that a deal to bring the Barnsley boss to West Brom is all but done following developments that occurred during talks on Saturday.
The report goes on to state that Guochuan Lai and Ismael have agreed the terms of his contract with the club, while the Baggies will now approach the Tykes to discuss buying the 45-year-old out of his current deal, something that is believed will cost West Brom around £2m.
Having endured their club going through a rather arduous search to appoint Sam Allardyce’s successor, with moves for names such as Chris Wilder, David Wagner, Roy Hodgson, Frank Lampard and Michael Appleton all failing for a variety of reasons, the news that West Brom now appear close to landing their new manager is sure to have Albion fans buzzing.
And, considering the rather remarkable job Ismael did after taking over at Barnsley in October of last year – when the club’s CEO Dane Murphy claimed that the Frenchman was a “standout” candidate for the role – it would very much seem as if the 45-year-old is one of the better candidates Lai has targeted.
Indeed, despite the Tykes being predicted by FourFourTwo to finish the Championship season in a lowly 18th place before a ball was kicked, in addition to having not won a single game from their opening seven league fixtures of the 2020/21 season prior to Ismael’s arrival, the Frenchman went on to guide his side to a rather astonishing 23 wins, five draws and 11 losses over his 39 league games in charge of the club, securing a fifth-place finish for a much unfancied Barnsley side, before narrowly losing out in the play-off semi-finals to Swansea City.
Adding in the fact that the former VfL Wolfsburg manager arrived after the summer transfer window had closed, in addition to signing just three young players in the January transfer window, Barnsley’s astonishing form is very solid evidence that the 45-year-old is a fantastic coach who can get the best from a group of players.
As such, given a greater transfer budget to work with, as well as a side brimming with Premier League experience, should Lai indeed go on to land Ismael this summer, it would appear to bode extremely well for West Brom’s chances of going on to secure an immediate return to the Premier League next season – an outcome that would delight everyone involved with the club.