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Who Is Poya Asbaghi? Barnsley again linked with Iranian manager

Poya Asbaghi was interviewed back in 2019
Poya Asbaghi was interviewed back in 2019

*Poya Asbaghi has since been appointed Barnsley's new head coach*

After a static period in the next Barnsley manager market, a new name shot into the mix over the weekend: Poya Asbaghi.

The Iranian-born coach, who has been in charge of Sweden's U21s for the last year, is now as short as 1/6 with William Hill while Bet Victor have suspended the betting.

Reports in Sweden from outlet SportExpressen suggest that an appointment is imminent, however BBC Sheffield reporter Adam Oxley has tweeted that while Asbaghi is a name on the club’s shortlist, reports that a deal is close are wide of the mark.

Barnsley fans may remember Asbaghi’s name from two years ago when he was linked as a replacement for Daniel Stendel, only for the then IFK Gothenburg head coach to reportedly turn the Tykes down.

Asbaghi was interviewed for the Championship post after promotion-winner Stendel had been sent packing, but he decided that the job wasn’t for him, with Barnsley going on to appoint Gerhard Struber as their head coach.

Next Barnsley Manager Odds

Barnsley sacked Markus Schopp at the start of November following a return of one win from 15 matches in charge. Joseph Laumann, who has been in contention for the permanent post, took over as caretaker and has since won one and lost one.

Former Newport boss Michael Flynn has been hotly linked as have Germany U19s manager Hannes Wolf, Alex Neil, and Alexander Blessi, while an approach for Mechelen head coach Wouter Vrancken was reportedly rejected.

While things can change quickly, it now looks that it’s Asbaghi who is in pole position to take over.

So, who is he and what's he achieved?

Asbaghi, 36, started life off as an assistant at Swedish side Dalkurd FF in 2014 and helped the club win the country’s third-tier Division 1 Norra in 2015. His position was upgraded to manager in 2016, delivering 4th spot - one point off the promotion play-offs - in the second-tier (Superettan). He spent 18 months in the job and left with a 48.78% win rate.

Asbaghi departed mid-way through the 2017 season - Dalkurd FF would go on to win promotion - in order to take charge of fellow Superettan side Gefle IF, who would avoid the relegation play-offs on goal difference. He won 10, drew four, and lost seven of his 41 games.

Asbaghi quit at the end of that season for top-tier outfit IFK Göteborg.

In two full seasons he finished 11th and 7th in the Swedish top-flight,  but delivered Swedish Cup glory and qualification into the Europa League qualifiers.

He was sacked in September 2020 and has been managing Sweden’s U21s since last November. He's yet to lose, securing five wins and two draws from seven matches. Man Utd youngster Anthony Elanga bagged a brace in the 4-0 demolition of Bosnia & Herzegovina U21s last week.

As we said in our original ‘next Barnsley manager’ piece following the sacking of Schopp, don’t be surprised if a left-field option bursts into the frame out of nowhere, and that’s proven to be the case once again.

The appointment of Schopp may have backfired, but Stendel, Struber, and Valerien Ismael were all shrewd recruitments, and should Barnsley appoint Asbaghi at the second time of asking then they’ll hope to have found another gem.

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