Obscene Conor Hourihane stats shows why so many clubs are fighting over him
The Barnsley captain is undoubtedly the best Irish player not to be capped in Martin O'Neill's senior squad.
One imagines that senior cap will come in 2017 but it may be too much of a stretch to throw him in against Wales in March's World Cup qualifier at the Aviva Stadium.
The 25-year-old from Cork continues to impress with Barnsley in the Sky Bet Championship. He scored his fifth goal of the season - a dipping, 30-yard volley - in a vital 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest.
Hourihane covered just about every blade of the City Ground pitch on Monday. He had 80 touches and logged an impressive heat-map for his all-action shift.
Now here’s Barnsley’s Conor Hourihane with 80 against Forest. Oh and he also scored the winner in the 88th minute. pic.twitter.com/fJm6zh2pDu
— Jack Grimse (@JackGrimse) January 2, 2017
Conversely, looking at the stats above, Hourihane's performance over-shadowed the likes of former Premier League midfielders Gary Gardner and Ashley Westwood in their 1-0 defeat to Cardiff City. Of Barnsley's 43 league goals this season, Hourihane [5 goals, 11 assists] has been involved in 16.
The win puts The Tykes within four points of the automatic play-off places and they will be keen to hang onto their captain until the end of the season.
Hourihane is out of contract at the end of 2016/17 but would surely be tempted to stay on if Barnsley were promoted. For the rest of January, though, Barnsley fans will simply hope Hourihane and his advisors stick with the club he helped to get promoted from League One last season.
A host of clubs have emerged as contenders for his signature, including Celtic, LA Galaxy, Aston Villa and Norwich City. Newcastle United are said to be monitoring Hourihane's situation.
It is no surprise and we expect names of a few Premier League clubs to be thrown in the mix before January is out.