Sheffield United are equipped to cope without Harry Maguire, manager Nigel Clough last night insisted, as the centre-half edged a step closer towards leaving Bramall Lane, writes James Shield.
Although Hull City, whose offer United have “reluctantly” accepted, yesterday threatened to leave the negotiating table after having two previous bids rejected by the League One club’s board, The Star understands Maguire will be officially unveiled as Steve Bruce’s latest summer signing this afternoon.
“My thinking on this is that we’ve lost a good player,” Clough said. “But that we put it behind us and move on.
“There are some good players in that position already here and we have the opportunity to bring some more good ones in. There’s Collo (Neill Collins), Andy Butler and young Harrison McGahey who, after coming here from Blackpool recently, has done very, very well.
“In fact, I think there are quite a few similarities between him and Harry. And, we can’t forget, Craig Alcock can also provide cover there too.”
While neither United or City have divulged how the Maguire deal is structured, this newspaper has been told it will involve Bruce’s employers making an initial £2m downpayment with further sums, potentially worth around £1.5m, owed in appearance and performance related instalments. Managing director Mal Brannigan has also inserted a sell-on clause into the agreement which entitles United to a significant percentage of any future fee Maguire might command should he leave the KC Stadium.
Again insisting that the 21-year-old’s development would have been best served by remaining in South Yorkshire, Clough said: “The deciding factor was Harry’s desire. We told him how much we wanted him to stay but his preference was for trying his luck with Hull.
“I always think it’s best for a young player to be somewhere they will, or will have a very good chance of, playing every week.
“I certainly don’t think another year with us would have done him any harm but I’m sure his representative has explained all of that to him.”
“This has been hanging over us for the past few months and now we move on,” Clough added. “Now we are looking the future and taking care of ourselves.”
Maguire, who has represented England at under-21 level, made 166 appearances for United after graduating from their academy in 2011.
Despite his faith in Collins, Butler and McGahey, Clough, speaking ahead of tonight’s friendly against Huddersfield Town, admitted he could be persuaded to bolster the defensive options at United’s disposal before calling for football to be more transparent about it finances. Clough has previously enquired about the possibility of recruiting Kieron Freeman from Derby County while John Brayford, another former loanee, is a confirmed target.
“I think the (new) offer was slightly different but the technicalities are for the board,” he said. “I know what it’s worth. But it would be unfair for me to say what the figure is.
“We’ve got our eye on some targets which we will begin pursuing.”