BARNSLEY owner Patrick Cryne rates club skipper Brian Howard among the best players outside the Premier League.
Howard, who has been linked with a move away from Oakwell this summer, was the top scorer at Oakwell last season and the only player at the club to be included in the Professional Footballers Association Team of the Year.
Said Cryne: "Brian Howard must be one of the best players in the Championship. You don't realise how good he is until you take the things he's done and put them on a disk and pull them together.
"People talk about Sheffield Unite'ds Michael Tonge being a 3 million or 4m player. What's Brian Howard worth? By comparison, he would be worth 10m."
Cryne added: "I think there is a tendency to look at Barnsley and say we can't have anything good because that's not where you go for good players.
"Brian Howard has been a truly outstanding player in the Championship for the last couple of years."
Cryne believes there is every chance of keeping the club's most prized asset.
"I think Brian likes being here," he said.
"He's a big fish in a small pool. He's not clamouring to leave, we're not getting his agent's clamour. We know that he's proud about being captain of Barnsley."
The Blades were the latest club linked with the 25-year-old and Everton's decision to release Lee Carsley to Birmingham could re-kindle interest on Merseyside.
Oakwell manager Simon Davey insists he wants to keep Howard but, as with every other player, he will sell if the price is right.
Barnsley are expected to bring in another central midfield player even though Anderson de Silva is part of Davey's long-term plans.
The talented Brazilian may miss the start of the season with a knee complaint.
He is still in Cadiz, Spain, where he is recovering from surgery.
Barnsley's Spaniard, Diego Leon, demonstrated last season he is at his most effective at the hub of the midfield and Davey is also expecting Jacob Butterfield to press for first-team football, with or without Howard.
Do you agree with Patrick Cryne's assessment? Is Brian Howard better than Michael Tonge? Post your comments below.
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