Sheffield United: How Chris Wilder managed to lure John Egan away from Brentford and why the Londoners finally admitted defeat in their battle to keep the centre-half
Chris Wilder spent the best part of 18 months pushing, probing and then gently cajoling in an effort to secure John Egan's release.
Although persistence played a part, the breakthrough moment in Sheffield United's pursuit of the centre-defender came when the defender himself told Brentford that, following two successful years at Griffin Park,his heart was set on moving north.Egan, aged 25, is expected to make his second appearance in a United jersey this weekend after the two clubsagreed a fee, thought to be in the region of Â£4.1m, yesterday morning. Having enjoyed a brief spell on loanthere earlier in his career, the visit to Mansfield Town for a pre-season friendly will still count as a debut. Butonly of sorts.United's ability to secure Egan's services is significant for a variety of reasons. The amount he has cost markstheir return to the multi-million pound market while, with Leeds waiting in the wings, his presencedemonstrates they possess real pulling power. More importantly, however, Egan's arrival seesUnited acquire a footballer approaching the peak of his powers. Capped twice by the Republic of Ireland,Egan clearly believes that returning to Bramall Lane will help his international aspirations. And, crucially,brokering his release sends a message to the likes of Jack O'Connell, John Fleck and George Baldock thatUnited are serious about achieving something.Given the trio's impressive performances at Championship level last term, Wilder accepts clubs further up thefood chain will be monitoring their development. Recruiting Egan, United's second summer signing, shouldplay well both on the terraces and inside the dressing room.The chain of events which led to Egan's arrival will be familiar to United supporters, following David Brooks'move to AFC Bournemouth. Like Eddie Howe, his opposite number at the Vitality Stadium, Wilder spent morethan one window chasing his man. Brentford, determined not to lose their captain, are thought to haverejected several offers before eventually relenting when Egan's wishes were relayed. United did the same withBrooks, but were also forced to accept the inevitable after discovering he wanted to leave.Having progressed through the ranks at Sunderland, under his compatriot Martin O'Neill, Egan arrives with awealth of experience. After making two appearances for Crystal Palace, his second loan spell saw him move toUnited where he played just once, during a League One fixture at Walsall, in March 2012. Placements withBradford City and Southend quickly followed until Gillingham signed him on a free. Two years and over 90appearances later, Brentford stepped in when he rejected a new contract at Priestfield. Soon after, with HarleeDean heading for Birmingham, Dean Smith unveiled him as club captain."It was something that I saw in John," Smith said at the time. "That he could be a good leader. He's evolvedinto a good leader in the dressing room. He's well respected in there."Personality is another reason why Wilder plumped for Egan above other potential options."There's always one who wears the armband," he said midway through last term. "But we want more than onecaptain out there."