Nottingham Forest's £20m Dean Henderson links leave Sheffield United wondering what may have been

Reports today that Dean Henderson could join Nottingham Forest in a loan-to-buy arrangement said to be worth a reasonable £20m have offered Sheffield United a glimpse of what may have been had they managed to establish themselves as a Premier League club.

Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 4:30 pm

The goalkeeper spent two seasons on loan at Bramall Lane from Manchester United, effectively earning a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad on the back of his displays for the Blades after first helping them into the top flight, before securing a ninth-placed Premier League finish.

Henderson’s return to Old Trafford was a major factor in United’s second-season struggle, which saw them relegated back to the Championship, while a combination of Covid-19 and injury, plus a return to form for David De Gea, have stunted the player’s development.

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A possible route to first-team football again may be found by a loan-to-move to the newly-promoted Forest, who beat United in the play-off semi-finals en route to the Premier League.

Reputable journalist Fabrizio Romano reported today that Henderson is open to the move, with an option to make it permanent mooted for a £20m fee – which would, based on Henderson’s performances for the Blades and considering the current, inflated state of football finances, seem a very reasonable fee indeed.

It’s likely that the player would have to sacrifice something on the wage front if he joined Forest permanently, with Henderson thought to earn in the region of six figures per week at Old Trafford.

Dean Henderson returned to Sheffield United recently to watch their play-off clash with Nottingham Forest - a club he is now being linked with from Manchester United: Darren Staples / Sportimage

But playing first-team football has always been the priority for Henderson ever since he first went to Old Trafford and if United were still a Premier League club – and the player was willing to compromise on his salary to fit in with the wage structure at Bramall Lane - spending £20m to bring Henderson back to a place he was adored would have surely be within their reach ... and represent superb value, too.

Instead, with the Blades condemned to another season in the Championship and their former star man seemingly on the move this summer, United will likely see Henderson flourish somewhere else – and wonder, not for the first time, what may have been.