Sheffield United could be forced to wait until the end of the transfer window before discovering whether their bid to sign Gary Mackay-Steven has been successful, writes James Shield.
Nigel Clough, the League One club’s manager, tabled a second offer for the Scotland international earlier this week after travelling to watch him represent parent club Dundee United during Monday’s Premiership fixture against Hamilton Academical.
Although that was also rejected by the Tannadice hierarchy - Clough’s counterpart Jackie McNamara confirmed a £100,000 verbal bid had been rebutted earlier this month - sources north of the border believe their intransigence is a result of Celtic’s interest in Stuart Armstrong and Nadir Çiftçi rather than a reflection upon United’s valuation of a player who has scored 27 goals in 99 starts on Tayside.
Mackay-Stevens’ colleagues are both known to interest Ronny Deila and with McNamara’s team well placed to qualify for Europe next season, the 41-year-old is believed to have informed his employers that losing three key names before next month’s deadline could irrevocably damage their top three hopes.
That means the fate of Armstrong and Çiftçi are likely to decide if Clough receives the green light to open talks with Mackay-Steven shortly or whether he must put his interest on hold until the summer.
Dundee United reported a net profit of £1.2m during their most recent set of annual accounts even though fees recouped for Andrew Roberston and Ryan Gauld, thought to total nearly £6m, did not feature on the balance sheet.
Mackay-Steven, aged 24, scored his fifth of the present SPFL campaign at New Douglas Park as McNamara’s side climbed to third in the table, five points behind leaders Aberdeen.