New West Bromwich Albion boss Valerien Ismael has admitted winger Matheus Pereira will likely leave The Hawthorns this summer, amid ties with Aston Villa and a host of other Premier League clubs.
The Brazilian was one of the Baggies’ best players last season, but his form was not enough to prevent Albion from returning to the league.
His performances meant he was widely expected to stay in the Premier League or seal a move to another top league and he had previously been linked with Villa, West Ham United, Leicester City and Leeds United among others.
The race for his signing is now set to intensify after Ismael, in his first press conference as Baggies boss, admitted that Pereira and goalkeeper Sam Johnstone are expected to leave the club this summer.
“It’s no secret that Sam Johnstone and Matheus Pereira may be able to leave the club,” Ismael said.
“I expect them to leave.
“But like I said, I don’t need the best players, I need the right players for the job. Even if they leave, we will find the solution or we will reinvest the money.
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“Maybe we have someone in the academy who can take on the job.”
The head coach added: “After signing I had a few video calls with all the players and for the first time with Pereira.
“We spoke very openly about the situation. I have no problem. We have made it simple, you are in or you are out. But if you are in, you are 100%.
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“He said if he came back and trained he would give 100%, so by the minute he’s focused. I can’t say anything else.
Former Villa striker Emile Heskey believes he would be an ideal signing for Dean Smith’s side.
“I think he did a fantastic job. I think he would suit the way Aston Villa play because he really is a counter-attacking football player, ”Heskey said in May.