Sheffield United transfers: The state of play at Blades as deadline day looms

As they enter the final week of the transfer window, Sheffield United have managed to fill one of the two most important vacancies Paul Heckingbottom identified within his squad immediately after being appointed two months ago.

Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 6:56 am

With the clock now ticking before it closes on Monday, The Star analyse why the United manager swooped for Stoke City’s Adam Davies and explains the crucial piece of business still yet to be completed.

WHAT SHEFFIELD UNITED WANTED

Initially it was just a centre-half. But when Robin Olsen and his parent club AS Roma both confirmed they wanted to cut short the Swede’s stay at Bramall Lane and place him with Aston Villa instead, a goalkeeper was added to the list.

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Former Barnsley goalkeeper Adam Davies is destined for Bramall Lane

Davies, who worked with Heckingbottom at Barnsley before moving to the bet365 Stadium, is expected to be officially presented as a United player before Saturday’s visit to Peterborough.

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WHY THEY WANTED IT

United were already short of cover at the heart of their defence before Heckingbottom decided to revert back to the three man rearguard which proved so successful during Chris Wilder’s reign. Now, after ditching the ‘four’ preferred by the 44-year-old’s immediate predecessor Slavisa Jokanovic, they are desperately short. In fact, they are only one injury or illness away from being potentially forced to consider a change of formation. Or throwing Kyron Gordon in at the deep end as they attempt to qualify for the Championship play-offs, with the on-loan Ben Davies still absent.

Regan Slater is leaving Sheffield United: Isaac Parkin / Sportimage

THE DECISION TO GO FOR ADAM DAVIES

Heckingbottom initially considered an approach for Davies’ City team mate Frank Fielding. But when it became apparent that Michael O’Neill was prepared to sell Davies, he went for him instead.

Davies is experienced at this level and knows the area, having worked at Oakwell and Sheffield Wednesday before heading to Staffordshire. He also knows Heckingbottom, meaning he should settle in straight away.

Wes Foderingham will continue as United’s first choice goalkeeper for the time being. But Davies has the talent and the pedigree to be viewed as a genuine threat to the former Rangers man, which is exactly what Heckingbottom wanted.

Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffied United manager: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

HOW MUCH HAVE SHEFFIELD UNITED SPENT?

Davies will command a fee of around £250,000. Around a fifth of that sum is set to be deposited in United’s coffers when Hull City settle their bill for Regan Slater, who has agreed a move to East Yorkshire.

With Heckingbottom’s employers thought to have been contributing around £30,000 a week to Olsen’s wages, substantial savings had already been made before Slater’s departure.

THE WORK TO BE DONE

United must identify and then recruit a centre-half, with several potential targets known to have been highlighted by scouting experts Paul Mitchell and Jared Dublin.

Heckingbottom has also spoken about the fact he feels there are too many strikers within his squad - something Jokanovic also felt was a problem - and so could look to trim his options here even further after allowing Oliver Burke to join Millwall on loan.

THE PROGRESS BEING MADE

United have held exploratory talks with a number of Premier League clubs about signing any suitable centre-halves who are surplus to requirements, including Liverpool following Davies’ switch to South Yorkshire. However, Heckingbottom believes it could be until the closing days of the window before one is allowed to leave.