Sheffield United: Celtic set to press ahead in their pursuit of Blades star despite damaging blow

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Celtic accept their failure to reach the group stages of the Champions League has dealt a blow to their hopes of signing Sheffield United’s George Baldock.

But Ange Postecoglou’s admission his team’s exit from the competition can be attributed to a lack of decisiveness in the transfer market will place the Championship club on red alert, after The Star reported how the former Australia head coach urged the Glaswegians to sign the defender after taking charge last month.

Postecoglou identified Baldock as one of his priority targets following a summit meeting with Parkhead’s recruitment department. Although the former Scottish Premiership champions are only prepared to pay around £5m for the 28-year-old, whose contract with United expires next summer, they believed that qualifying for the CL proper would tempt Baldock to move north.

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However with a 3-2 aggregate defeat to Midtjylland consigned them to the Europa League play-offs instead.

George Baldock of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / SportimageGeorge Baldock of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
George Baldock of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“I take the responsibility,” Postecoglou said, after watching his side bow out of the competition. “I’m the person who has been put in charge. I obviously haven’t done a good enough job of convincing people we needed to bring people in.”

“I have been trying to be as forceful as I can about what we need to bring in, and the challenges we have had are well chronicled,” he added. “Maybe I wasn’t clear enough. But I think I have been pretty consistent in saying that we need more players and the club is working hard to bring them in.”

Postecoglou’s thinly disguised criticism of Celtic’s hierarchy could persuade them to abandon their policy of trying to lure United to the negotiating table and adopt a more aggressive strategy instead.

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Baldock is aware of their interest in acquiring his services. But like Sander Berge and Aaron Ramsdale, whose futures in South Yorkshire are also in doubt, he does not appear inclined to force the issue.

Indeed Slavisa Jokanovic, the new United manager, insisted all of their leading names are “happy” following Wednesday’s friendly against Doncaster Rovers. Baldock and Berge were two of Jokanovic’s most effective performers at the Keepmoat Stadium, where a Lys Mousset brace and strikes from Oliver Burke and Luke Freeman saw United cruise to a 4-0 win.