Barnsley: Marley Watkins says goodbye to Reds after turning down new deal

Marley Watkins has said farewell to Barnsley
Marley Watkins has said farewell to Barnsley

Forward Marley Watkins wished Barnsley all the best for the future after confirming his departure from the club.

The versatile frontman bagged 10 goals for the club in their first season back in the Championship, but is seeking new challenges for next season.

Rumours of Premier League interest turned his head in January and despite talks over a new deal, Watkins will be plying his trade away from Oakwell next season.

“I’m grateful to all the players, the staff and to Hecky for all the opportunities at the club,” said Watkins, whose contract runs out in June.

“I wish them all the best for the future.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure giving 100 per cent week in, week out for this club.

“There are no better fans in the country, their passion is top drawer.

“We’ve been on an incredible journey together, from the bottom of League One to the Championship in just over a year.”

A number of clubs are interested in securing the 26-year-old’s services, with Barnsley unable to offer the same financial incentive as other clubs in the league and above.

The Reds’ budget is one of the lowest in the Championship, with the lure of substantially higher wages accounting for the departures of Sam Winnall, Conor Hourihane and James Bree back in January.

Premier League football is the target for Watkins and Burnley are reportedly keen on the player, with plenty of Championship admirers too, as well as Scottish champions Celtic.

Josh Scowen is another who decided against extending his contract beyond the end of the season.

It is going to be a real shake up for Heckingbottom this summer with only a handful of players left from the side that won duel Wembley honours last season and he needs bodies through the door, fast.

He has lost a lot of quality this season and it could take some time for the club to rebuild, with their policy being to buy players from the lower leagues and improve them.

The Reds need ready-made Championship players to replace the calibre of talent that has walked through the exit door over the past few months.