New West Brom boss Valerien Ismael admits he expects two of the club’s best players to quit the Hawthorns this summer.
The 45-year-old believes he will have to mount a promotion challenge without both Sam Johnstone and Matheus Pereira after the Baggies were relegated from the Premier League last season. Goalkeeper Johnstone and forward Pereira were the two stand-out performers despite Albion’s dismal season as they finished second bottom.
Johnstone – linked with Arsenal and West Ham – is currently away with England ahead of Wednesday’s Euro 2020 semi-final with Denmark. Pereira, meanwhile, is back in training with the Baggies but Ismael is not preparing to work with them for long.
He said: “It’s not a secret, Sam Johnstone and Matheus Pereira are the two players who can leave. It’s my expectation they will leave.
“I don’t need the best players, I need the right players and even if they leave we will find the right solution.
“After I signed I had some video calls with all the players and it was the first time I spoke with Matheus, we spoke openly about the situation.
“I don’t have a problem. It’s very simple, you are in or you are out. But, if you are in, you are 100 per cent.
“At the minute he is 100 per cent focused and I can’t say anything else.
“We will see (with Johnstone). As soon as he’s finished (at the Euros) we will see. I hope for everyone it will be very long until he comes back. At the minute the focus is on the Euros for him. We are really proud. We’ll have a talk when he comes back.”
Ismael wants new Baggies identity
Ismael is Albion’s sixth boss in four years after he left Barnsley last month having taken the Tykes to a surprise fifth in the Sky Bet Championship, losing to Swansea in the play-offs.
The Frenchman is keen to instill a new identity at the Sky Bet Championship club after signing a four-year deal.
He said: “It’s all about consistency, if you look at the top clubs in England the managers have worked for many years – (Pep) Guardiola, (Jurgen) Klopp, (Mauricio) Pochettino when he was at Tottenham.
“The first thing is you need to win but all have an identity and you need time to implement that to start to win games.”