Prince Abdullah confirms Sheffield United rejected Everton bid for Daniel Jebbison as he discusses transfers, hopes for season and United World project
Prince Abdullah has confirmed that Sheffield United received an offer from Everton for Daniel Jebbison during the last transfer window, revealing it was rejected because the Bramall Lane hierarchy see the England youth international as “the future of the club.”
The revelation came in the Prince’s wide-reaching interview with the Sheff United Way podcast over the weekend, with a number of topics discussed of the Saudi’s control of Bramall Lane.
In it, the Prince explained why four temporary players were brought in the last transfer window, and why United left their business late; that he still believes his side can get promoted from the Championship this season despite their poor start; and why he still trusts that the United World empire will benefit the Blades.
Jebbison was the only player to leave United on deadline day, sealing a late-window move to Burton Albion to work under the former Chelsea and Netherlands striker, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
A Premier League history-maker after becoming the youngest player to score on his full debut since the competition was formed in 1992, ironically against Everton at Goodison Park, Jebbison is highly-rated by England and the country of his birth, Canada.
“We were in desperate need to sell some players to cover the deficit [of relegation last season] but we held on to our best players,” the Prince said.
“We got an offer from Everton for Jebbison but refused to sell him because we think he will be the future of the club. And Egan, we said he wasn’t for sale early in the window.
“But you have to pick where you can sell and I think we’re in better shape. Are we out of the woods? No, but I think we’ve done all that we can.”
The headline departure for the Blades in the transfer window was that of Aaron Ramsdale, who joined Arsenal in an initial £24m deal. United expected that both Ramsdale and Sander Berge would leave the Lane this summer, but the midfielder – who is currently isolating after contracting Covid-19 – is still a Blades player, until January at the earliest.
“We started this year with a deficit of £85m and we have to cover this £85m either from partners or selling players,” the Prince added.
“We knew we had to sell some players and every club that goes to the Championship has to do the same unless they haven’t bought anyone, like Norwich City. But other clubs, when you get relegated you have to sell some players.
“We were in a position where we had to sell players but we couldn’t say that at the start of the window because we would put pressure on the club and if clubs knew we had to sell, they would not offer the same for Ramsdale.
“We had to ask when we got a £24m offer: “If we go to the Premier League, can we get a Premier League goalkeeper for less than £24m?” If the answeris yes, then it’s a good deal.
“Look at Édouard Mendy, Chelsea got him for £14m or £16m. Ramsdale will be a great GK in the future but sometimes you have to make tough decisions and always have to plan for the future, and ask yourself can we find a goalkeeper similar with less money? And if so, you have to pull the trigger.”
The initial £24m fee for Ramsdale puts him amongst the most expensive goalkeepers in Premier League history; marginally higher than Chelsea’s Mendy, who Sky Sports and other outlets report cost £22m when he signed from Rennes last year.
He will be replaced in goal by Robin Olsen, the Swedish international signed on loan from AS Roma late in the window.
“When the process started with potential managers we were very clear; the team plays a certain system that will be very difficult to change to another,” the Prince added.
“We were clear with the top 2 candidates that we can only bring in four or five loans, or use it all on one or two big players on a higher salary.
“I always prefer buying players to loaning them, because if you loan and you don’t get promoted it’s lost money. I’d rather we used the money on a permanent but I still think we have a good chance of promotion.
“The core of our team is good. If we go to the Premier League we will need to buy some players, but for sure we will do it differently to the last two years.”
On the Blades’ late transfer business, which saw them run out of time to sign alternative wingers when deals for Alex Collado and Yann Karamoh fell through on deadline day, the Prince said: “The closer the window comes, the more players you find. I don’t play poker but it’s like poker, the more you hold your hand the better players you get, with better prices.
“You start to get the real deals in the last days of the window. Clubs say they want to sell the players and when they don’t get any offers, you get better terms. Financially it's better to wait, I think, because you get better offers and more selection.
“We offered the manager some positions and he said he’d rather wait because we’d get better players towards the end of the window.”
Another team busy on deadline day were United’s sister club Beerschot, who signed Brighton’s Moises Caicedo late in the window after spending £1m on Scotland striker Lawrence Shankland in the summer.
Beerschot and United are the jewels in the Prince’s United World crown, which also involves clubs in Dubai and India, with French side Chateauroux joining the empire earlier this year.
“Look at some of the players we have loaned out to Beerschot,” Prince Abdullah said. “I think we struck goal with Chatereoux, there’s lots of good young talent there.
“We’re still early in that process and haven’t perfected it yet, it will take some layering. But I think it helps all clubs; we have eyes in all three big markets.”
“I love our fans and our passion,” the Saudi royal added. “I want them to be more positive because when they are negative, it affects us sometimes.
“Be optimistic, believe in the team. We have had some worse starts and the solution for everything isn’t to buy more players. Sometimes you have to work with what you have.
“The ultimate goal is to make the team more successful because if we don’t it’s a failure for me, for my reputation, for my money and for the investment I have committed to the team.
“I want to make money but if you say I can make £10m and the team is losing or make £2m and the team is a great success, I would rather have the success.
“The joy doesn’t come only from money. The Norwich game [just before lockdown] I was in the stadium, it was one happy day.
“How can you value that? That’s bigger than any money.”