Centre-half Andy Butler, a summer transfer target for Sheffield United, will be a major asset wherever he ends up next season.
That is the view of his former Walsall teammate Richard O’Donnell, who began his career with hometown club Sheffield Wednesday.
The Saddlers are resigned to losing skipper Butler when his contract expires with them next month, with the Doncaster-born player turning down their new contract offer. The 30-year-old joined the club in November 2010 and went on to play 176 times for Walsall. Butler was one of six players offered new terms by the League One outfit earlier this month.
The Star understands United are in pole position to make Butler, a model of consistency during his three years in the West Midlands, their third signing of the summer following the recent arrivals of Marc McNulty and Jamal Campbell-Ryce.
Nigel Clough, the United manager, is keen to strengthen his backline, having recently released Matt Hill while Wolves have lodged a £1m bid for Harry Maguire this week.
Goalkeeper O’Donnell, formerly of Rotherham United and Chesterfield, said: “It’s never nice to lose your captain and Andy [Butler] has been a big player on and off the pitch.
“He’s left for personal reasons and no-one can blame him. He’s a good friend of mine, everyone wishes him well and I’m sure he will do really well wherever he goes.”
United, meanwhile, have arranged pre-season friendlies with Burton Albion, Clough’s former club, and Northampton Town. They will travel to the Pirelli Stadium on Saturday, July 19. Four days later, Clough’s charges head to Chris Wilder’s Northampton team.