Alan Biggs: Chris Wilder will push for David Brooks return to Sheffield United in January
Chris Wilder will mount a determined effort to land David Brooks in the January window, an early sign of ambitious intent.
Brooks is a name that won’t go away and probably, in the opinion of Sheffield United’s manager, never should have gone away in the first place.
Which is why this column is convinced that Wilder will want the Blades board to launch an all-out bid for Brooks in the January window.
I understand Bournemouth value the attacking midfielder at £30m plus, virtually three times the £11.5m they agreed to pay United for his services in July, 2018.
But I believe Wilder will recommend to Bramall Lane’s Saudi rulers that this is a realistic price and one worth paying for a player whose one season in the top flight more than proved he could cut it.
The Blades boss is also determined to land a replacement for the stricken Jack O’Connell, having been frustrated at failing to break through on that front in the last window.
Clearly Wilder sees a threat to the club’s hard won and highly lucrative Premier League status unless they invest substantially in a team dynamic that demands a servicing of the overlapping centre back system and more attacking menace from behind the strikers.
He has every reason to believe that results will start to fall more in line with a steady standard of performance despite heading to champions Liverpool on Saturday with a single point from five games.
However, staying in the Premier League is the only true and accurate measure of this season and it could require equally realistic levels of investment to achieve.
Although a series of club record fees have been paid, United have not had to break the bank to afford them, investing from resources generated by the success of Wilder’s regime.
While the popular tally of recent trading amounts to some £40m plus, fee payments are likely to have been structured over four years.
That suggests the actual current expenditure is around £15m - reduced to £12m by a £3m balance in United’s favour on the Oliver Burke/ Callum Robinson swap with West Brom.
Not that this isn’t commonly true across football or that Wilder won’t appreciate being supported, as was finally the case with Rhian Brewster after much haggling resulted in a final price of £20m (the extra £3.5m will only be activated by extreme success).
Brewster, wanted by Wilder initially on loan as he pursued proven Premier League strikers, could make his first Blades start back at Anfield on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the chase for Brooks is only just beginning. Bournemouth are naturally keen to keep the quicksilver 23-year-old to hasten a return to the Premier League but the uncertainty caused by their relegation has created a window within a window for Wilder.
Brooks and a centre back capable of attacking down the left will be front and centre of his mid-season focus even at this stage.
For clarity, and despite grapevine gossip to the contrary, I believe he did not pursue Manchester United’s lavishly paid Marcos Rojo in the last window.
The big future challenge, though, is for United to stretch a wage budget that places their top earners on around £30,000 a week, which is relatively very low in Premier League terms.
But logically it is a price worth paying to provide the extra zip Wilder’s team may well need to be sure of continuing their money-spinning Premier League adventure.