Barnsley survived another transfer window of speculation by retaining the service of their captain, Alex Mowatt, despite a sea of uncertainty at the beginning of 2021.
Mowatt’s precarious contract situation at Oakwell has been an issue for some time now and even a short-term extension last year never truly freed Barnsley from the threat of him moving on.
Valerien Ismael has retained him for now and that is going to be vitally important as he looks to oversee a solid second-half of the season.
Mowatt arrived at Barnsley from Leeds United back in 2017 after the midfielder began losing his way at Elland Road despite bursting onto the scene a few years prior.
His initial impact at Barnsley wasn’t what we have now come to expect of the midfielder and a loan to Oxford was on the cards in 2017/18.
However, Barnsley’s relegation into League One opened a door in 2018/19, which Mowatt crashed through.
Eight goals and seven assists in an ever-present campaign helped Barnsley back into the Championship and Mowatt has never looked back, going from strength-to-strength.
He’s back to his best in the Championship, maturing as he’s reached 25 and looking every bit a leader in the Barnsley midfield.
Seven goals and 11 assists from central midfield across two seasons isn’t to be scoffed at and Mowatt has his admirers.
Mowatt’s deal with Barnsley only runs until the end of the season. The club activated those terms last summer, retaining their midfielder for a second season back in the Championship.
However, Mowatt’s form, combined with a precarious position in terms of his contract, resulted in speculation.
Millwall were the side most heavily linked with a move for Mowatt but nothing materialised on any front.
In the meantime, Barnsley and Ismael’s focus is on securing fresh terms on Mowatt’s contract with the Tykes.
What does the future hold?
That will depend on Mowatt agreeing a new contract with Barnsley.
If you look at the Tykes, this is probably their best chance of getting Mowatt tied down.
Ismael has taken the squad forwards rather than backwards since replacing Gerhard Struber and Barnsley are targeting a top-half finish. That’s some improvement given they narrowly avoided relegation last term.
There was a point where Millwall would have been seen as a significant step up from Barnsley, but that’s no longer the case. It would be a sideward move for Mowatt.
Selling Mowatt a progression path will be key from here. Yes, Barnsley have avoided losing him in January, but longer-term they remain at risk.
The next few months are essential.