Sheffield United: Arsenal target Aaron Ramsdale's future at Bramall Lane could have a major impact on one of his team mates
If Slavisa Jokanovic gets his way and Aaron Ramsdale remains a Sheffield United player next season, the former England under-21 international’s presence at Bramall Lane could have implications for another young goalkeeper’s career with the club.
Michael Verrips, capped five times by Holland at young level, finished last season on loan with Emmen after expressing frustration at his lack of first team football since arriving in South Yorkshire.
With Jokanovic already plotting how to repel an approach for Ramsdale from Premier League heavyweights Arsenal - Mikel Arteta’s side are expected to make their interest in the 23-year-old official over the coming week - Verrips will be studying how one of the summer’s highest profile transfer sagas unfolds before reaching a decision about his own future.
If Ramsdale stays, it would make sense for Verrips to depart. Either on a temporary basis again or this time permanently. Because, although Jokanovic can’t say so publicly, Ramsdale will be the first name on his team sheet next term if the bid from north London fails - both in a literal and figurative sense.
“Michael has a minor problem, nothing serious but he wasn’t able to take part,” said Jokanovic, explaining why even though Ramsdale was on Euro 2020 duty over the weekend Verrips didn’t take part in Saturday’s friendly with Europa Point. “It’s only minor, as I say, but he can’t participate at the moment.”
Deciding how to ensure Verrips remains motivated whilst retaining Ramsdale’s services is one of several low-profile yet complex problems Jokanovic inherited when he agreed to become United’s manager in May. Wes Foderingham, who started the 3-0 win over the Gibraltarians, was under no illusion about the fact he would be Ramsdale’s deputy after arriving from Rangers. But Verrips, who was recruited when United reached the Premier League in 2019, clearly believes he was the subject of a very different pitch. Indeed, before completing his switch to the De Oude Meerdijk, Verrips accused Jokanovic’s predecessor Chris Wilder of reneging on what he felt was a promise to feature in cup games.
Jokanovic knows that ensuring Ramsdale remains at United is far more important than addressing Verrips’ concerns about his own prospects. But as he looks to reprofile their playing staff, the Serb will also be reluctant to make a binding decision about someone who, despite struggling for action, was highly-rated by Wilder and his staff.
Depending upon the speed of his recovery, Verrips could be awarded an opportunity to impress Jokanovic when United continue their preparations for the new Championship campaign with a trip to Doncaster Rovers on July 28. Or when Norwich City make the journey north three days later.
“We will look at everything, or everything we can, and try different things to see what works,” said Jokanovic, confirming he is ready to experiment during those two fixtures. “Then, when we have done all of that, we will know what’s best for the individuals and the group as a whole. That is always the main focus of your work at this time of year, when you come in somewhere.”