Paul Heckingbottom sends Sheffield United recruitment warning amid transfer conundrum

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Blades sends warning ahead of difficult transfer summer

Paul Heckingbottom has warned that it would be a mistake for Sheffield United to focus entirely on young talent in the current transfer window - and rely on loans rather than signing their own promising youngsters.

United are yet to make their first breakthrough in the transfer market since promotion but have made contact with a number of clubs and players as they prepare for the start of the top-flight season on August 12.

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Heckingbottom is working to a limited £20m budget for permanent signings and Prince Abdullah, the club’s owner, recently set out his transfer profile for the future, insisting any new faces must be young and hold re-sale value in case the Blades are relegated back to the Championship.

That hasn’t stopped the Blades being linked with experienced heads including Wolves defender Conor Coady and, more in hope than expectation, Manchester City treble winner and boyhood Blade Kyle Walker.

The owner’s aim is understandable, especially considering the financial trouble United found themselves in last season after spending around £100m on new players when they were last promoted to the Premier League. But at the same time United cannot continue to rely on loan players, who often either don’t make a sufficient impression, or shine and return to their parent clubs a better - and much more valuable - player.

United have seen both sides of that particular coin in recent seasons, with Reda Khadra’s spell not working but Dean Henderson, Morgan Gibbs-White, James McAtee and Tommy Doyle all going back to their respective clubs much better players than when they first arrived in South Yorkshire. And Heckigbottom, who has paid a transfer fee for one player, defender Anel Ahmedhodzic, in his time in charge, said: “The difficulty - and I understand why - is that there was a lot of money spent all at one time and for the last five or six windows, we’ve only paid for Anel.

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“So he’s been the only one of that age we’ve been able to replace. As much as I want the strongest team for next season, and that’s got to be right, I also understand and want to promote the health of the club, when we speak about the academy and squad planning.

“So we need younger players that are our players. We can easily go and find young loan players, but then they disappear and you have the same problem. So we need younger players that are ours. Definitely. But that can’t be the only criteria, or you’re limiting your chances to get a competitive squad together. So there are lots of things we want to think about.”

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