Sheffield United Digest: Slavisa Jokanovic reveals market back-up plan; Blades fans may need Covid passports; United linked with ex-Leeds man; Sander Berge latest

Slavisa Jokanovic has reassured Sheffield United fans that he has back-up plans in place should any of his key men be lured away from Bramall Lane this summer.
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The Serb has acknowledged that Sander Berge could depart following relegation last season, while teammates Aaron Ramsdale and George Baldock have also been linked with Arsenal and Celtic respectively.

A former top-flight player himself in Spain, Yugoslavia and England - where he spent two years with Chelsea - Jokanovic is aware the transfer market can throw up unexpected surprises. So, with that in mind, he has drawn-up a number of different recruitment plans to try and cover every eventuality.

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“It is still very early for decisions on losing players,” said Jokanovic, referencing the fact that United have yet to receive offers for any of the trio. “But I do have a plan. In this world, you never know what can happen. It is impossible to predict." READ FULL STORY HERE

Blades fans may need Covid passports

Sheffield United fans hoping to return to Bramall Lane next season after 18 months away may be asked to use a so-called Covid-19 passport in order to do so, under guidance from the government set to be issued to football clubs.

Covid-19 laws are set to be removed from Monday – the so-called Freedom Day in the UK – but with cases of coronavirus rising by the day, prime minister Boris Johnson will urge venues expecting large crowds to adopt Covid certification – either proof of two doses of the vaccine, or a negative test.

Such measures have been used in sporting test events, including Wimbledon and the recent European Championship games at Wembley, but further measures including staggered kick-off times may be implemented in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus when the new season starts, and grounds return to full capacity. READ FULL STORY HERE

Slavisa Jokanovic, the Sheffield United manager: Bryn Lennon/Getty ImagesSlavisa Jokanovic, the Sheffield United manager: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Slavisa Jokanovic, the Sheffield United manager: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Blades linked with former Leeds wonderkid Ronaldo Vieira

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Sheffield United have been linked with Ronaldo Vieira, the former Leeds United midfielder now plying his trade in Italy with Sampdoria.

The midfielder, still only 22, spent last season on loan at Verona and has been offered to a host of clubs, including United.

Slavisa Jokanović, the United boss, knows that midfield is an area of his squad that will need attention this summer, with Sander Berge expected to follow John Lundstram out of the Bramall Lane exit door.

But who is Vieira, what’s his background and would a move suit all parties? READ FULL STORY HERE

Blades’ friendlies cancelled as Covid-19 precaution

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Sheffield United’s pre-season clashes against local sides Hallam and Handsworth have been cancelled as what the Blades call a “Covid-19 precaitionary measure”.

A United XI, understood to be U18 players, were set to make the short trip to Handsworth on Saturday, with Paul Heckingbottom’s U23s scheduled to play their second friendly of pre-season on Tuesday evening against Hallam at Sandygate Road.

But United have postponed both games, due to Covid-19 precautionary measures. READ FULL STORY HERE

Jokanovic’s pitch to Berge is revealed

Sander Berge will be told his career could be best served by remaining with Sheffield United next season and helping them try and regain their place in the Premier League rather than engineering a move to either Napoli or Arsenal.

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Although he concedes Berge has plenty of financial incentives to leave - like the rest of United’s squad, his wages have been cut following relegation - Slavisa Jokanovic is convinced there are also sound footballing reasons why he should stay at Bramall Lane for at least another 12 months.

Those, combined with a promise that Berge can move on if United fail to win promotion next term, are believed to form the basis of the new United manager’s pitch to the Norway international. READ FULL STORY HERE

How Blades hope to steal a march on their rivals

Sheffield United have held exploratory talks with a number of Premier League clubs as Slavisa Jokanovic looks to cherry-pick some of their most promising young players ahead of the new Championship season.

As The Star reported earlier this month, United are set to focus their attention on the loan market during this summer’s transfer window although Bramall Lane’s hierarchy have also made finding available for a select number of permanent deals.

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With the rescheduled European Championships meaning most top-flight managers are not yet in a position to properly assess their squads, United accept it could be another week until real progress is made.

But in an attempt to steal a march on their rivals, Jokanovic and his associates are understood to have already approached contacts at top-flight sides to outline United’s wants and needs. READ FULL STORY HERE

SIX names to watch out for after boss’s exciting admission

As The Star revealed yesterday morning, Slavisa Jokanovic is prepared to rip up his recruitment plans this summer if one of Sheffield United’s promising young stars stakes a claim for a spot in his first team.

Although an attacking midfielder and central defender are currently top of Jokanovic’s wish-list ahead of August 7’s opener against Birmingham City, the Serb has challenged members of the club’s academy programme to prove they are better than the targets he has identified.

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United’s U23 side won their league title last season, before losing in the national play-off final, and there is genuine excitement at Bramall Lane that some of their talented crop of youngsters can make a real impression in a red and white shirt in years to come.

But who are the particular names to look out for from the academy? Let’s take a look at half a dozen for starters… READ FULL STORY HERE

Boss refuses to be drawn on links to centre-half

Slavisa Jokanovic has refused to be drawn on claims Sheffield United were interested in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Dion Sanderson before his temporary switch to Birmingham City, reminding that he prefers his clubs to do business in private rather than through the media.

United are among a number of clubs known to have monitored Sanderson’s progress at Sunderland last season, after he was loaned to the Wearsiders to further his development.

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With defeat in the League One play-offs effectively ending their chances of signing the centre-half 0on a permanent basis, both United and Newcastle were understood to have made discreet enquiries about his availability ahead of City’s decisive swoop.

As The Star reported last week, Wolves planned to send Sanderson out on loan again before reaching a permanent decision on his future at Molineux. After persuading him to agree a new long term contract, that has persuaded them to sanction the youngster's move to City who face United during the opening round of Championship games. READ FULL STORY HERE

Owner's homeland considering innovative bid

Saudi Arabia, whose government Sheffield United owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud once served as sports minister, are said to be planning a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup with reigning European champions Italy.

If the proposal comes to fruition, it would mark a further strengthening of the two country’s footballing ties with the Supercoppa Italiana twice being staged in the Middle Eastern kingdom until returning home last year.

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Although Prince Abdullah no longer holds a ministerial position - he was required to relinquish his seat on Bramall Lane’s board of directors until leaving the role - the 56-year-old still retains strong connections with the sport in his homeland.

Jan van Winckel, one of his most trusted advisors and an influential figure in the United World project, has served as the Saudi Arabian Football Federation’s technical director. READ FULL STORY HERE