After a three year absence, the Chinese businessman made a shock return to The Hawthorns on Wednesday.
Lai, who was last seen when Albion took on Brentford in December 2018, met with Ismael at the club’s training ground. He then headed to The Hawthorns where he had meetings and lunch with other senior staff members.
Lai is understood to want to sell Albion. But it is believed he accepts that until they become established in the Premier League, he will not get anywhere near the £200million he paid for the club in July 2016.
At the meeting with Ismael, the duo talked about plans for the future and the upcoming January transfer window.
And the head coach described the meeting as ‘positive.’
“I think it’s a good sign and a great moment,” Ismael said when asked about Lai’s visit. “It was a surprise, I only found out a few days earlier from our CEO.
“But I think it’s exactly the right moment for him to show up and for us to speak about a lot of topics.
“We gave him a picture about the staff and players. And we got a picture from him and a feeling – I think it was very important for everyone.”
Asked for more detail on what they discussed, Ismael continued: “We spoke about a lot of different topics. The squad, the games he has seen so far, his feelings, the project, the January window, the academy players.
“We went through everything – it was the chance to speak about everything and for him to hear my feelings and my vision.
“They were positive discussions. He is very committed. He has a big passion for the club and is completely committed.
“We spoke about the long-term project, why I came here.
“And he is particularly delighted with the young players.
“It was a positive visit from him to give us a boost.”
Ismael said Lai is aware what additions he feels Albion need to make in January.
“We have a plan in place behind the scenes,” the boss added.
“He knows exactly what we want. We know exactly what we want and now it’s all about working on it.”
Lai will not be at Oakwell tomorrow when Albion take on Barnsley.
But the Express & Star understands he is planning to attend a game in the spring.
Albion’s controlling shareholder went to extraordinary lengths to return to the club on Wednesday.
He spent 10 days quarantining in England. And when he returns to China, he will undergo a 28 day quarantine process.
Lai will first will have to spend 14 days in a quarantine hotel.
He will then spend seven days at home without departing.
For the final seven days he will be allowed out, but only after posting a daily negative Covid test.