Sheffield United: 'He is the perfect player for this football club' says Paul Heckingbottom, as he reveals contract offer has been made

Paul Heckingbottom says Chris Basham embodies everything Sheffield United stands for after telling the board he wants to ensure the defender remains at Bramall Lane next season.

Friday, 7th January 2022, 5:00 pm

Basham, whose contract expires this summer, confirmed discussions with the United manager have ended with both parties agreeing to extend the agreement.

Once again a regular feature in the starting eleven following Heckingbottom’s appointment in November, the 33-year-old admitted to being “in the dark” about why the deal is taking so long to ratify given the fact both he and Slavisa Jokanovic’s successor are “on the same page”.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup tie at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Heckingbottom suggested that the need to plan budgets depending upon “which division we end up in” could be the cause of the delay.

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But asked why it is so important to retain Basham’s services, he told The Star: “Everyone knows, he epitomises what Sheffield United fans want to see in their team. I saw the clips going round of our last match at Fulham, where he made this run forward and then ran the length of the pitch to get back and make a covering tackle - that’s what it’s all about.

“But from a football side of it as well, his versatility is great. That’s something we want to keep and it’s also something we are very mindful of when we are looking to bring players in too.”

A veteran of two promotions and last term’s relegation from the Premier League, Basham joined United from Blackpool in the summer of 2014. Originally a midfielder, he has since been converted into an attack-minded centre-half and has helped Heckingbottom’s side climb to 13th in the Championship despite making a slow start to the campaign under Jokanovic. They are eight points behind Huddersfield Town, despite playing four games less following a series of postponements.

Chris Basham with Sheffield United captain and team mate Billy Sharp following the win over Fulham: David Klein / Sportimage

“I don’t have a clue about what goes on in the background,” Basham said. “All I want to do is perform. I don’t think there’ll be much more of a delay. I’m 33 years old. I don’t know what the delay is. We’ve had a general chat and to say where my ambition is and where my head is at. I’ve asked him (Heckingbottom) to stay and he wants me to stay.”

Despite their recent form, United want to bolster their options at centre-half this month with Heart of Midlothian’s John Souttar a confirmed target. Heckingbottom also used his latest pre-match press conference to admit he had been monitoring James Hill before the youngster’s switch to AFC Bournemouth.

But Basham is set to continue being an important part of Heckingbottom’s plan to lead United back into the top-flight, as well as toward the later stages of the knockout competition after the former Barnsley, Leeds and Hibernian chief stressed a cup run would have a positive effect upon performances in the league.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom wants to keep Chris Basham: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“The fact Bash has played elsewhere before, which he can do again, means he brings a uniqueness to his position and I love that,” Heckingbottom said. “That uniqueness, the way he plays as a centre-half, is a real strength for us.”