Sheffield United’s decision not to withdraw their interest in Ricky Holmes was fuelled by the belief they were close to agreeing a fee for the Charlton Athletic winger before he signed a new contract with the Londoners.
The Star understands Bramall Lane’s transfer negotiators were confident of securing the player’s services after lodging a second undisclosed bid with The Valley’s board of directors last month.
Intermediaries involved in the discussions predicted the amount proposed would be enough to persuade the League One club to part company with Holmes who, despite being offered fresh terms when news of United’s interest first broke, only put pen to paper yesterday. But, rather than accept, Charlton are said to have then increased their valuation with Karl Robinson, Chris Wilder’s counterpart in the capital, later insisting he would not be sold.
Although Wilder will not want the disappointment surrounding Holmes’ decision to overshadow United’s pre-season preparations - they arrived in Spain ahead of Friday’s friendly with Malaga last night - he is reluctant to pay over-inflated fees after emphasing the importance of adhering to a budget.
“I can’t just go and pay over the odds,” Wilder said. “The club has not had a structure in the past and, I believe, has struggled because of that. If you stick to a structure, you get good days and bad days.”
Holmes, aged 30, worked with Wilder at his previous club Northampton Town before joining Charlton. Despite Robinson’s claims to the contrary, United are convinced he was keen to explore the possibility of a move to South Yorkshire following their promotion to the Championship.
Although the situation presents him with a dilemma - Holmes is not the only creative talent on United’s wish-list - Wilder is adamant they can build a squad capable of competing at a higher level after purchasing five new players, including defenders Richard Stearman and Enda Stevens, since lifting the League One title.
“I’m not going to kid people,” Wilder said.
“Would I like the top Championship budget? Of course I would.
“Are the owners in the position to give me that? No. It’s as simple as that. I’ll work with what the owners give me.
“We’re going in a way that’s patient and at our pace. It might not be the pace some people like or want. But it’s our pace. If things change above that, then the pace might change. But we’ll still do it in a structured way.
“We’ll do it our way. I’m not embarrassed about it. I won’t tip the owners upside down. Why should I?”
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