How Sheffield United's sister club Beerschot can help put them in pole position to recruit Alexander Blessin, as Belgium's bigger clubs also look at the German

Sheffield United’s sister club Beerschot could help their associates at Bramall Lane prise KV Oostende head coach Alexander Blessin away from the Verluys Arena when they face his employers in Antwerp this weekend.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 12:51 pm

Blessin’s team were dealt a blow in their hunt for Jupiler Pro League play-off qualification when they suffered a shock home defeat to bottom side Waasland-Beveren four days ago.

That result left them in fifth, three points behind RSC Anderlecht who occupy the fourth and final berth. If Oostende are beaten again, this time by a side owned by United’s HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, it would encourage officials in South Yorkshire to consolidate their interest in the 47-year-old.

United’s pursuit of Blessin, currently their preferred candidate to fill the vacancy created by Chris Wilder’s departure last month, is not only being complicated by concerns he could struggle to meet the criteria for a work permit but also reports a number of Belgium’s leading names are also monitoring the former RB Leipzig youth coach’s progress since taking charge in June.

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Despite his relative lack of experience, which will count against him when it comes to securing a position in English football post-Brexit, Blessin has made a huge impact at Oostende; transforming them from a relegation threatened outfit last season into one of the country’s most successful this term.

Intriguingly, Prince Abdullah, the man ultimately responsible for hiring Wilder’s replacement, purchased a major stake in Beerschot before also being awarded sole control of United following a High Court battle with long-standing director and former owner Kevin McCabe.

Beerschot have since been added to the Saudi Arabian’s United World group - which also includes Chateauroux, Kerala United and United on its portfolio of sporting interests.

Jack Hendry, on loan at Oostende from Celtic, could emerge as a potential target for United if Blessin does succeed Wilder. But the centre-half has admitted to being interested in extending his stay on the North Sea coast.

Beerschot face KV Oostende this weekend in the Jupiler Pro League

Two members of Will Still’s Beerschot squad are on loan from United. Ismaila Coulibaly was dispatched there, supposedly for three seasons, after being signed from Sarpsborg. Steelphalt Academy graduate George Broadbent is also scheduled to spend at least the rest of the campaign until Will Still’s tutelage.

United, who appointed Paul Heckingbottom as caretaker after severing their ties with Wilder following nearly five years at the helm, are destined to be relegated from the Premier League after losing for the 24th time in 30 outings when they were dispatched 2-0 by Leeds on Saturday. They face Arsenal this weekend, with captain Billy Sharp, Sander Berge, Jack O’Connell and Chris Basham among those set to miss out through injury.

Arsenal are reportedly considering a bid for Berge once United’s fate is mathematically confirmed.

The Norway international joined United from Oostende’s JPL rivals Genk last January, for a then record fee of £22m. United are hoping to receive around £35m if he asks for a transfer in order to pursue his ambition of appearing in the Champions League once again.

Oostende's head coach Alexander Blessin is interesting Sheffield United: KRISTOF VAN ACCOM/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

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George Broadbent is on loan at Beerschot from Sheffield United: James Wilson/Sportimage
Beerschot's Isamaila Coulibaly is also on loan from Sheffield United: JOHAN EYCKENS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images