West Bromwich Albion are in talks with Valerien Ismael about becoming Sam Allardyce’s successor at The Hawthorns this summer.
That’s according to a report by The Athletic, who claim that the Barnsley manager is now Guochuan Lai’s first choice to become the Baggies new boss, after both Chris Wilder and David Wagner had been set to take on the job, before being eventually being ruled out.
It is reported that Ismael will cost West Brom £2m in compensation if they do go on to appoint the 45-year-old this summer, with talks between the two Championship clubs regarding his potential move to The Hawthorns thought to already be underway.
While the Tykes boss may not have the promotion-winning experience that was believed to be a requirement of the now-departed West Brom sporting and technical director Luke Dowling, it is easy to see why the Frenchman is thought to be an attractive prospect for the Baggies this summer, as Ismael has performed something of a miracle in his short time at Barnsley this far.
Indeed, despite the fact the club was predicted to finish in 18th place in the Championship standings at the start of the season, after taking over last October, the 45-year-old led his side to 23 wins, five draws and 11 losses in the league, picking up 74 points and securing a fifth-place finish in the second tier of English football.
And, although the man dubbed an “ambitious” manager by the Barnsley CEO Dane Murphy was not successful in guiding the Tykes to the Premier League, losing 2-1 against Swansea City on aggregate in the play-off semi-finals, the fact that the French coach managed to secure a top-six finish with an extremely unfancied is nonetheless an incredible accomplishment, while it would also indicate that Ismael is a man with fantastic potential in the game.
As such, with Lai having struggled to find a suitable candidate for the role for what has been quite an extended period of time now, considering the 45-year-old’s record last season, it would seem highly advisable for the Chinese businessman should do all he can to get a deal over the line for the former VfL Wolfsburg head coach this summer, with his potential appointment sure to have fans buzzing.