Sheffield United begin transfer talks for new season squad strengthening

Blades boss Chris Wilder and assistant Alan Knill
Blades boss Chris Wilder and assistant Alan Knill
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Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has opened preliminary talks with several of his leading transfer targets after predicting his club’s latest recruitment drive will begin in earnest later this month.

At least one potential new signing is believed to have visited Bramall Lane last week after being approached about the possibility of a move to South Yorkshire.

Although Wilder has denied a move is imminent, the player concerned was accompanied by his agent, he refuted suggestions United’s progress during the first month of the window is cause for concern.

“I think when everyone is back from Portugal, that’s when you’ll start to see things happening,” Wilder said, referring to the English Football League’s annual general meeting. “People go over there and they meet each other and then things can get put in place.

“We’ve got a few bits and pieces going on. We’re getting things in line and speaking to people, stuff like that. We know what we want and we know what’s out there. We’ve been working on this for quite a while, it’s not thrown together at the last minute.”

United have placed two new centre-forwards and a new centre-half at the top of their wanted list while a goalkeeper also features among Wilder’s priorities.

Jamal Blackman, whose season long loan from Chelsea expired last month, is one possibility although other avenues are also being explored.

Blackman’s team mate at Stamford Bridge, Kasey Palmer, was being lined-up for a move to United earlier this year before injury scuppered the move. Wilder must decide whether to resurrect his interest in the FA Youth Cup winner while The Star understands assistant manager Alan Knill undertook at least two scouting missions to Scotland towards the end of last season.

Chief operating officer Andy Birks and Carl Shieber, head of football administration, represented United at the EFL’s AGM. Together with voting on various legislative changes, the trip to Europe also represented an opportunity to discuss business with their respective counterparts across the division.

Although Wilder has compiled a list of medium and long term targets, his immediate concern is bolstering United’s squad with a handful of top-quality additions. Aware they will struggle to compete financially with many of the competition’s clubs, that has prompted him to focus on the Premier League loan market which, he believes, could allow United to snare the type of talent otherwise beyond their reach.

“We’ve got good players here already,” Wilder said. “Good players who will continue to improve. So we want to bring in people capable of making a real difference to that group. I know it’s a cliche but quality really is more important that quantity for us now.”