Sheffield United could be forced to reach a financial settlement with midfielder Dean Hammond if manager Chris Wilder decides he does not want the midfielder to be a part of his squad next season.
Hammond, previously of Leicester City, triggered a clause entitling him to a permanent contract at Bramall Lane when his loan from the Premier League champions expired last week.
The option, which was inserted into the agreement he signed before joining United in October, provoked fury among large sections of the club’s support when it was revealed on Friday. Senior members of the United’s hierarchy are also thought to have voiced their dismay after learning of its existence while Wilder, who took charge earlier this month, responded by placing Hammond on the transfer list as he plans a major overhaul of the playing staff he inherited from Nigel Adkins.
Unless a buyer can be found - Adkins has held talks with both Charlton Athletic and Bolton Wanderers after being sacked on May 12 - United will enter the forthcoming campaign knowing one of their highest earners is effectively surplus to Wilder’s requirements. And that raises the possibility of Hammond being offered a lump sum to terminate his deal early.
Vastly experienced and with three promotions on his footballing CV, Hammond’s arrival was regarded as a major coup when it was first announced 31 weeks ago. But 34 appearances and two goals later, his reputation on the terraces had been irrevocably damaged by the time a 2-0 defeat by Scunthorpe condemned United to their lowest league finish for over three decades. That, combined with the fact they had the highest wage bill in League One, prompted United’s board of directors to remove Adkins and appoint Wilder following the latter’s success with Northampton Town last term.
Co-owner Kevin McCabe recently outlined plans for a review of the club’s recruitment policy. Wilder, meanwhile, declared the days of United paying over the odds for players “are gone” after being unveiled as Adkins’ replacement.
“I am not saying we won’t pay players their worth, or we won’t pay the going rate,” Wilder said. “But they have to be worth it. They have to be value for money. I have to maximise that budget.”