Sheffield United: West Bromwich Albion's decision to pursue Simon Moore has trapped Bramall Lane in a perfect footballing storm

Although Chris Wilder played down the possibility of further departures from his first team squad following its friendly against Bradford City, the Sheffield United manager nevertheless felt compelled to issue an caveat.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 18th July 2018, 3:49 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th July 2018, 3:52 pm
Goalkeeper Simon Moore becomes a free agent next summer
Goalkeeper Simon Moore becomes a free agent next summer

"They're here, in the building and comfortable so we will go from there" he said, brushing aside questionsabout reported interest in some of Bramall Lane's leading players. "But you never know what's around thecorner."

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That note of caution was important and possibly prophetic because, after identifying Simon Moore as apotential back-up to Sam Johnstone, West Bromwich Albion have already stepped-out from behind the edge.The Midlands club's pursuit of the 28-year-old is unhelpful, untimely and most definitely unwelcome given Wilder's recent comments about the strength of hisgoalkeeping department. But, for all the strategic improvements they have made since the formerNorthampton Town chief's appointment, Albion's decision to press ahead with their bid has seen Unitedengulfed by a perfect footballing storm. Moore, injured and fearful of spending another season on the bench,is being courted by a team with much deeper pockets. And, crucially, he has now entered the final 12 monthsof his present contract.Despite awarding new deals to the vast majority of Wilder's side, United postponed negotiations with Mooreat the beginning of last term as he recovered from a knee complaint. Their intention, relayed both publicly andprivately to everyone concerned, was always to extend his stay. But, with former loanee Jamal Blackmanconsolidating his place in the starting eleven, discussions with Moore and his agent were delayed again asUnited focused their intention on trying to reach the play-offs after thrusting themselves into top sixcontention. When those hopes were dashed after the penultimate match of the campaign, Wilder sent amessage to Moore by selecting him ahead of Blackman for the final game. However, despite this show offaith, talks were again forced to take a back seat as United prioritised chasing potential transfer targets. Therewas, it must be noted, little complaint about that decision at the time. Particularly when Dean Hendersonarrived on loan from Manchester United.Having signed Johnstone for £6m from Henderson's parent club, snatching him from under the noses ofarch-rivals Aston Villa, Albion have no pressing need for another goalkeeper. Nor, given the size of theirinvestment, is anyone drafted-in likely to feature ahead of the former England youth international. But Albionwill attempt to exploit Moore's contract status by offering United considerably less than the £500,000 theyreportedly paid Cardiff City to acquire his services two summers ago. Armed with a Premier League parachutepayment worth around £90m, officials at The Hawthorns can also tempt Moore with a substantial pay rise tosoften the blow of playing second fiddle to Johnstone. United are believed to have responded with a counteroffer of their own after returning from a training camp in Portugal. Ultimately, with Moore's deal set to expire inless than a year's time, the player will decide where his future lies.Although a thigh problem means he is unlikely to be available for selection when United continue their pre-season preparations at Mansfield Town this weekend, Wilder wants Moore's situation resolved quickly. LukeSteele, aged 33, has been drafted in on trial; presumably with a view to becoming his replacement. Wilderprovided an alternative take on events immediately after the 3-2 win at Valley Parade, insisting instead thatSteele's presence is designed to relieve the workload on Henderson and youngster Jake Eastwood ahead ofnext month's meeting with Swansea City."Simon's got an issue with his thigh, he's not trained for a couple of weeks and we'll take it at that," he said."It's important we didn't overload our goalkeepers as well."

Luke Steele has joined Sheffield United on trial