Too good for League One - What next for Barry Bannan, the Sheffield Wednesday skipper with many admirers
He was the only player to play all 46 of Sheffield Wednesday’s Championship games this season, but despite a new contract at Hillsborough – can the Owls keep hold of Barry Bannan?
In a real show of commitment to the cause, Wednesday skipper Bannan penned a new two-year deal earlier this year even though the threat of relegation was very much on the cards come the end of the season.
The Scot has been at Hillsborough for many years now, and has been clear that his plan is to see out his two years and – if needs be – get the club back to the Championship if the worst did happen.
Well now the worst has happened, and few will argue with the fact that Bannan is not a League One-quality footballer. And he’s not short on admirers across the Championship, several of whom have been vocal about their admiration in recent years.
Whatever happens going forward, Bannan has to be commended for the loyalty that he’s shown to Wednesday, because there was nothing to stop him walking away for free at the end of the season when his previous deal expired.
By signing a new contract, the 31-year-old made sure that he would either be part of the setup for 2021/22 – regardless of the division – or become a sellable asset for Wednesday to make what could be some much-needed profit ahead of a tough campaign in the third tier of English football.
His confirmation that there was no relegation release clause in his contract meant that the Owls are guaranteed to have either have a top quality central midfielder or at least something to show for it if he moves on.
Premier League-chasing Brentford are one of several clubs who have shown an interest in him previously, and depending on what happens with them could be tempted to come back in for him now that Wednesday can no longer offer Championship football.
Whether the Owls can afford to keep Bannan in League One is a different story, and even if there is potentially a post-relegation wage drop included, there is going to be a consolidation needed by Dejphon Chansiri and his management team now that League One has been confirmed.
Darren Moore has said that he’ll be having conversations with all of the players at the club – those contracted next season as well as those that aren’t – about the way forward, and Bannan will be involved in that as the SWFC boss gauges the mood of matters and starts to make plans based on what is said.
Bannan, a proud and passionate man with a deep affiliation with Wednesday, may want to stick around and try and right some of the wrongs of the season that has gone. A player of his ability in League One would be a huge boost for Moore, and he’s already said that – as captain – he takes responsibility for the way the season’s gone.
For now we wait, but whatever happens, Bannan’s commitment can never be questioned. You only had to see him collapsed on the turf at Pride Park to see how much the situation hurts.