Filip Uremovic: A former Celtic target and a fan of the Sopranos - Who is Sheffield United's newest signing and how did he end up at Bramall Lane outside transfer window?

Sheffield United have moved to strengthen their defensive options for the rest of the season by signing the Croatian defender Filip Uremović.

The 25-year-old international signed for the Blades after his contract with Russian club Rubin Kazin was suspended.

But who is he, what’s he like and how has he ended up at Bramall Lane?

Early days

Born in Požega, Uremović’s career began in his homeland of Croatia with Cibalia before joining the academy of Dinamo Zagreb. A short spell in Slovenia with Olimpija Ljubljana – where he won the league and cup double - saw him attract attention from Rubin Kazin, who reportedly paid €1million for his services.

What’s he like?

Uremović himself describes himself as an “aggressive” player and believes he will be able to adapt to English football, after watching Saturday’s victory over Barnsley from the Bramall Lane stands.

He is a full Croatia international and although his Wikipedia page was quickly altered soon after signing for United to show he has almost 2,000 senior caps, he actually has six for Zlatko Dalić side.

Paul Heckingbottom with Sheffield United's new signing Filip Uremovic (Sheffield United)

Many of those appearances have come at right-back, highlighting the versatility he can bring to Paul Heckingbottom’s side – including a tough clash against France in 2020, with Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé on the scoresheet in a 2-1 France win.

Away from football, Uremović is a fan of The Sopranos series and watched it during the Covid-19 lockdown, after returning home to Croatia from Russia.

How has he ended up at United?

The Blades are very short on defenders, with Jayden Bogle, Chris Basham, George Baldock, Charlie Goode and Ben Davies currently out, and injuries represent possibly the biggest threat to their hopes of qualifying for the Championship play-offs this season.

United looked at Andre Wisdom, the former Liverpool man, as they looked to strengthen their options, but he wasn’t close enough to match fitness to make a deal worthwhile.

United then broadened their search, exploiting a recent Fifa ruling that means that players plying their trade in Ukraine and Russia could suspend their contracts and escape the countries amid the current conflict following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Uremović’s contract was subsequently suspended, and he arrived at Bramall Lane.

Has it come out of nowhere?

A little, but not completely. Heckingbottom revealed that the defender has been on the radar of the Blades’ recruitment team for some time, but he had always been previously out of their financial reach.

For United, the signing came just in time ahead of today’s 5pm deadline for new signings to be registered with the EFL for the rest of the season.

Celtic were linked with a move for Uremović in 2020 as they searched for a new centre-half, before signing Shane Duffy from Brighton on loan.

Rubin Kazan sporting director Oleg Yarovinsky said at the time: "Celtic and CSKA Moscow both came to us and asked about signing Filip. We never got as far as discussing the transfer fee, but we were in contact with both clubs.

"I am very confident he is going to be a top defender one day at a very big club and it is important for him to make the right move eventually.

“But for now, Filip is not for sale."

What have they said?

Paul Heckingbottom: "Unfortunately, because of the terrible situation between Ukraine and Russia, players have had contracts suspended and after someone contacted me about Filip, we spoke. Thankfully he sees this as a great place to come and play in the short-term."

Filip Uremović: "This is a really big club, and it is an honour and privilege to now have an opportunity to play here. I hope we will achieve our goals this season.”