Barnsley: Former Reds loanee Ben Pearson tops Lee Johnson’s new season shopping list

Ben Pearson, on loan at Barnsley last season, is a target for the next campaign
Ben Pearson, on loan at Barnsley last season, is a target for the next campaign
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Barnsley boss Lee Johnson would love to sign Manchester United midfielder Ben Pearson ahead of next season.

Johnson has revealed he is hungry to snap up as many as seven new players this summer – with Pearson on his wanted list.

Pearson starred on loan for the Reds this season and quickly established himself as a favourite with the Oakwell faithful.

“Ben Pearson has been excellent this season,” revealed Johnson. “He’s still got a lot to learn, so I think this could be a place for him to learn.

“We can improve him and give him games as well. He’s a nice lad and I like him.

“He sometimes needs to train a little bit harder than he does, but we’re on him.

“But if he does then he’ll no doubt go on to have a very good career.”

Johnson knows it will be difficult to prise Pearson, an Engand Under-20 international, away from Old Trafford.

But with skipper Martin Cranie expected to leave the club and six other players also likely to be going out of the exit door, some funds could be made available for Johnson to try and entice Pearson to Oakwell.

And if Johnson can’t get the 20-year-old on a permanent deal he would happily look at a long loan deal.

Stoke City striker George Waring, who also impressed on loan at Oakwell, is understood to be another of Johnson’s targets.

But Johnson doesn’t know whether the highly-rated hitman will be available on a permanent or loan deal yet.

Meanwhile, centre-back Cranie is expected to have no shortage of suitors after his three-year contract with the club expired.

The Star understands the player’s wages, believed to be around Championship level, were too much for the club in League One next season.

Johnson is keen to trim his playing budget so he can make money available to bring new players in as he continues to re-shape the bulk of the squad he inherited during former boss Danny Wilson’s reign.

Youngsters Mason Holgate and George Smith are both likely to be given opportunities to continue developing next season, while midfielder Paul Digby is another young player who is expected to fall into that category.

“If you’re good enough then you’re going to get a chance, there’s a real incentive for the young players,” said Johnson.