Sheffield United: Blades believe they can still land Ryan Leonard and other leading transfer targets

Chris Wilder is still chasing Ryan Leonard: Lynne Cameron/Sportimage
Chris Wilder is still chasing Ryan Leonard: Lynne Cameron/Sportimage
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Chris Wilder remains “confident” Sheffield United can complete deals for their leading transfer targets, including Southend captain Ryan Leonard, before next month’s Championship opener against Brentford.

The Sheffield United manager made the admission after revealing he made a presentation to Bramall Lane’s board of directors, detailing the players he would like to sign, ahead of Tuesday’s friendly at Chesterfield.

Leonard’s agent admitted earlier this month that his client wants to leave Roots Hall after United submitted an improved bid for the midfielder last weekend. Although Southend chairman Ron Martin has repeatedly stressed the player is not for sale, sources close to the League One club suggest they could be tempted to do business if another offer is made.

“Ryan is still a possibility,” Wilder said. “We’re still after Ryan. News came out from there, it’s not a secret.

“We’re still in for a few and Ryan is one of them. Loads of names have been mentioned.”

With Millwall and Bolton Wanderers also monitoring Leonard’s situation, Wilder has compiled a “long list” of names he believes are capable of bolstering United’s options in midfield. Ben Reeves, who is training at MK Dons despite becoming a free agent earlier this summer, is also known to count the 49-year-old as an admirer while Blackburn Rovers defender Darragh Lenihan is also being tracked by United’s transfer negotiation team.

Ryan Leonard (right) wants to leave Southend United

Ryan Leonard (right) wants to leave Southend United

Wilder, who was recently forced to call-off his pursuit of Charlton Athletic’s Ricky Holmes when the Londoners twice raised their asking price, continued: “I’m not going to talk about other players. There are certain players I’ve had to talk about because I’ve had to, it comes out. We are making bids all over the place and it comes out. Then, I have to talk about it.

“We’re in positions where we want a centre-half, a centre-midfield player and maybe at the top of the pitch. But there’s still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done. We’re still early days in pre-season.”

Wilder met HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during United’s training camp in Spain last week. Although he refused to divulge any details of what was discussed, the subject of sell-on fees, recouped following recent moves involving Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire, featured on the agenda. United could also be set for a further windfall if Jamie Murphy, who left them to join Brighton and Hove Albion two years ago, is sold this summer.

“I’ve left the money issue with the owners,” Wilder said. “We put together a presentation to them, because they are the people who own the football club, about the players we want to get. We have a structure, through people who work here, to try and get them. I’m confident these players we are trying to get will be signed off.

Darragh Lenihan is highly-rated

Darragh Lenihan is highly-rated

“We’ve done fantastically well about protecting ourselves with the likes of Kyle, Jamie and Harry. It’s a tough division. Any money that can be made available, I’ll try and spend it wisely to make us better.”