Sheffield United: Blades’ pursuit of Ryan Leonard hits a snag

Chesterfield's Liam Graham lifts the ball beyond Southend's Ryan Leonard
Chesterfield's Liam Graham lifts the ball beyond Southend's Ryan Leonard
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Sheffield United’s pursuit of Ryan Leonard, the in-demand Southend midfielder, has been dealt a blow after Shrimpers chairman Ron Martin insisted: He’s not for sale.

Blades boss Chris Wilder has identified Leonard as a target after he won Southend’s Player of the Year award for the last two seasons.

Last term, as United won the League One title with 100 points, Phil Brown’s side finished seventh - one point outside the play-offs.

Martin has already rejected one bid from United and another from a rival club, thought to be fellow promotion winners Millwall. And the property magnate said: “I’ve met Lenny and told him we don’t want to sell him.

“We’ve rejected offers from two clubs for him.

“Our ambition is to get promoted from this league and to get into the Championship so it makes no sense to sell our best players. We will be offering him a substantially improved contract and he will receive that offer this week.”

Leonard is out of contract in June 2018, after Southend took up the option to extend his deal by a further year.

He made 48 appearances for Southend last season, scoring three goals.

Wilder, who missed out on Ryan Bennett last week with the out-of-contract Norwich City defender electing to join Wolves instead, is also keen on Charlton’ Athletic’s Ricky Holmes.