Ronaldo Vieira: Why a move to Sheffield United would suit Sampdoria midfielder and Slavisa Jokanovic

Three years ago, researchers at the CIES Football Observatory compiled a list of Europe’s most promising young players.

By James Shield
Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 3:00 pm

After studying a variety of performance variables, then crunching the numbers and surveying the results, academics at the centre based in Neuchatel, Switzerland, selected 20 individuals they believed were destined for big things.

Gianluigi Donnarumma, of AC Milan and Italy, topped the organisation’s rankings. Kylian Mbappe, the Paris St Germain and France striker, featured in third. Among those who also made the cut was Ronaldo Vieira, whose name is understood to have been put forward as a potential loan signing for Sheffield United.

Although the former Leeds midfielder has yet to realise the potential which earned him a place in such exalted company, his talent is not in doubt. Nor are there any questions as to why Vieira’s current club, Sampdoria, are so interested in allowing him to spend next season at Bramall Lane or the thinking behind Slavisa Jokanovic’s decision to consider their invitation.

Sheffield United are understood to be keen on bringing Sampdoria midfielder Ronaldo Vieira to Sheffield United

With John Lundstram leaving United at the end of last term and Sander Berge attracting admiring glances from the likes of Arsenal and Napoli, the centre of the pitch is a priority area for the Serb as he prepares for this weekend’s Championship opener against Birmingham City. Conor Hourihane of Aston Villa has also been mooted as a possible signing, as United look to refresh their options in this much crucial of areas.

Although Vieira has struggled for both consistency and game-time since swapping West Yorkshire for Italy in 2018, his displays for both the Genovesi and Hellas Verona, where he spent the previous Serie A campaign, reveal why the former England under-21 international is an attractive proposition for a team expected to employ a variety of systems and tactics when it goes in pursuit of promotion.

Born in Guinea Bissau and raised in Portugal, Viera made his professional debut for Leeds after progressing through their youth system following a successful trial. Initially he partnered Liam Bridcutt in what is best described as a ‘traditional’ midfield double act before being handed extra responsibilities by Marcelo Bielsa following his arrival at Elland Road.

Despite winning a number of individual awards there, Vieira was allowed to move to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris soon after being recognised by the CIES. It was there, as Sampdoria’s coaching staff searched for a way to shoe-horn all of their most gifted performers into the starting eleven, that Vieira showcased another side to his game: often being asked to operate in both boxes rather than simply trying to dictate operations in the engine room. He has also been deployed in a midfield trio.

Paul Heckingbottom knows Ronaldo Viera: Darren Staples / Sportimage

Jokanovic is someone who clearly values versatility, having spoken at length on the subject soon after officially taking charge last month.

Crucially, he can also draw upon the knowledge of someone with an insight into Vieira’s character and personality as well as his technical prowess. Paul Heckingbottom, who served as United’s caretaker manager until Jokanovic’s appointment following Chris Wilder’s departure in March, worked with the 23-year-old during his spell in charge of Leeds.

Heckingbottom selected Viera for his final match at the helm of United’s neighbours, before being replaced by Bielsa.

Slavisa Jokanovic, the Sheffield United manager