Sheffield United: Why retaining Simon Moore's services could be the most significant piece of business at Bramall Lane this summer
It might not be the most eye-catching piece of business they complete this summer. Or, for that matter, the most expensive.
But confirmation that Simon Moore has agreed a new long term contract is a hugely significant moment in Sheffield United's development both this season and beyond. Because it demonstrates, unless Premier League money changes the equation, Chris Wilder possesses the resources and the respect to retain players being courted by rival clubs.
Speaking at the Steelphalt Academy training complex, before Moore had been presented to the media, the United manager finally acknowledged, after nearly a fortnight of prevarication, the 28-year-old had been the subject of an approach by West Bromwich Albion. Indeed, having corroborated The Star's story detailing their interest, Wilder went even further; admitting the goalkeeper would "almost certainly" have earned more in the Midlands thanks to Albion's parachute payment. So little wonder, after learning Moore had concluded his future lies at Bramall Lane, today's announcement was accompanied by plenty of fanfare on United's social media channels.
"The way we looked at it, we want to get our business done and dusted," Wilder said. "Things happen and you've got to react. There's been interest in Simon. Do we sell or improve? We didn't want him to leave so we improved his contract."
Moore, now contracted to United until 2021, emerged as a target for Albion after entering the final 12 months of his previous deal. Despite luring Sam Johnstone to The Hawthorns earlier this month, Wilder's counterpart Darren Moore attempted to exploit that situation by offering a six figure sum, thought to be in the region of £150,000, for a player who cost around £500,000 two seasons ago. But in a sense, as Wilder was keen to emphasise, the maths are less important than message Moore's decision conveys. United, he clearly feels, can match his aspirations while, with Dean Henderson in situ and Jake Eastwood maturing into a talented professional, Wilder can enter the new campaign with arguably the Championship's strongest goalkeeping department at his disposal.
"That's the competition of football," he said, explaining Henderson's loan from Manchester United does not stipulate the youngster must play. "Individuals need something to fight for. If they didn't have that, and I'm delighted that's certainly not the case here, then I don't think we'd have been half the team we have been over the past few years."
Despite joking Moore should "really thank his agent" for negotiating improved terms, Wilder knows rewarding him for his loyalty makes strategic sense too. As they chase the two new centre-forwards and attacking midfielder required to improve on last season's 10th placed finish, United's coaching staff did not need the distraction of a fourth front in the transfer market. With Wilder stressing the importance of "building" and "progression" rather than perpetual revolution, talks are also scheduled with Paul Coutts, Chris Basham and captain Billy Sharp within "the next six months or so."
"I didn't want the upheaval of changing it around," Wilder added. "He (Moore) has got a great character and he loves the place. He's even on about joining a golf club that I'm looking at too. We'll have to see about that. Joking aside, he's a good kid and he's fitted in brilliantly ever since he's been here. And, this goes without saying, he's a damn good goalkeeper too."