The transfer window only opened this week yet the Reds have been busy from the get-go, with a number of deals in and out of Oakwell being announced in the last few days.
Valérien was in an upbeat mood when speaking about his two new recruits, as Barnsley yesterday signed striker Carlton Morris just 24 hours after the arrival of defender Liam Kitching.
Both players signed long-term deals at Oakwell and were top of the Head Coach’s wish list.
“I’m very delighted.” Began Ismaël.
“It was our purpose and my thanks go to the club for making it happen and so quickly. Thanks to Dane Murphy, who worked so hard to get me my wish.
“It is very good to have the new guys here working with us so quickly.
“Liam is a left-footed centre back, he plays well with the ball, he plays with courage. He’s very aggressive. He is only 21 but he plays with real leadership. He’s a great addition to our squad.
“I think Carlton is a complete striker.
“He’s excellent with his head, he has good speed. He’s technically good and a very strong player. He works hard and he will be another good option for us in the forward line.”
There is still plenty of time left for further incomings and outgoings to occur, but the gaffer feels his club is in a good situation and won’t be rushed into making false moves.
“We will have to wait and see, but we do have some ideas and we’ll keep assessing the market. If something makes sense for us, if everything fits together, we’ll be ready to move.
“But right now, there’s no rush. We have already got our two ‘wish’ players, the players I wanted. So we will stay aware and see what happens over the coming weeks.
“We won’t though be bringing in players who don’t want to be a part of what we are building here. Just as we feel confident about keeping our own players, because they’re enjoying what we do here and feel this could be a great season for us.”
The Reds did wave goodbye to forward Elliot Simoes this week who joined League One outfit Doncaster Rovers on-loan until the end of the season.
But the big move out was an expected one, with on-loan Leicester City midfielder Matty James going back to his parent club before joining Coventry City for the rest of the 20/21 campaign.
A hugely popular player at the club and a mainstay over the last couple of months, James’ departure will open the door for others already in the Oakwell ranks, as the boss explained.
“It was our decision, but it wasn’t an easy decision.” He told us.
“In that area of the field we have a lot of talented guys, young players who we feel are good enough so the decision was based on that - giving them their opportunity.
“Matty made a great job, with his skill, his experience and seeing him help lead the young guys. It was a pleasure to work with him. It was a good move for everyone and I’m delighted we helped Matty James get back to his good form.
“But we have good players in that area and will move forward with them. Romal Palmer, Herbie Kane, Alex Mowatt. And Callum Styles can play there remember. We have Isaac Christie-Davies and now Toby Sibbick is back with us and he is potentially able to play as a holding midfielder.
“We cannot ignore these young talents, it’s time for them to get their opportunities.
“As for Elliot, he needs to get out and play games, for sure, but he has to also improve his mentality and be more professional. It’s also an opportunity for him to maybe reflect on the last few months and what has happened.
“He’s young, he has proven quality and needs to recognise the chance that he has, and hopefully he will take this chance in the rest of the season.”
In terms of team selection, Valérien isn’t giving the impression that he’s about to rest players or go weaker because it’s a cup tie.
His options have been boosted also with the return of a number of missing players.
“The new players are cup-tied so we won’t see them on Sunday, but we have some of the players back who had COVID issues, so Conor Chaplin and Brad Collins, they’ve returned to training after isolation.
“George Miller was back but has a knee injury unfortunately now, and Alex Mowatt will be back for Sunday so long as his tests come back negative before the weekend.
“Jordan Williams trained for the first time with the team today, and I think this is very good news for us. And then maybe for next week, we will have Aapo Halme back and available.”
The Reds’ boss is fully aware of the grandeur surrounding the FA Cup and expects his players to go out there on Sunday at Oakwell and perform at their maximum.
His goal is progression to the fourth round against an opponent he has full respect for.
“We won’t change our mindset.” He declared.
“We have prepared for a Championship game as usual. We want to go through, to get to the next stage and play with our principles, from the first to the last minute.
“As always, we respect our opponent but will play our way, with intensity and we want to be in the draw for the next round.
“The FA Cup is watched around the world. I was lucky enough to play in the competition as a player and I know what it means to football, and to this club having had success previously. I’ve tasted that myself in France and Germany, and we want to go as far as we possibly can.”