Sheffield United: Blades' pursuit of Ryan Leonard 'could drag on through January window'

Southend's Ryan Leonard
Southend's Ryan Leonard
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Sheffield United’s ongoing pursuit of Southend’s Ryan Leonard could continue for the entirety of the January transfer window, admits the midfielder’s boss Phil Brown.

United identified Leonard as a target in the summer following their League One title victory, but were frustrated by the hardline stance of Shrimpers chairman Ron Martin.

Despite the fact Leonard is out of contract this summer, and rejected Southend’s offer of a new deal, Martin has so far refused to sell - despite United upping their offers. An improved bid, believed to have been in the region of £700,000, was rejected before the transfer window reopened on January 1.

But, with Southend dropping to 17th in League One, sources close to the Essex club suggest Martin may rethink the ‘not for sale’ status placed on Leonard’s head, preferring instead to recoup some money for a player he will likely lose for nothing in six months.

“There’s a renewed bid on the table for Lenny which has been turned down but the conversations are open and probably will be for all of January,” said Brown, whose position at Roots Hall has come under threat after six defeats in their last seven games.

“I’ll be doing all I can to keep him because he’s a massive asset for us. If the finances are right then there’s every possibility but at the moment Lenny is still a Southend United player and we want that to be the case for at least the next six months.”

Meanwhile, Blades striker James Hanson is understood to be on the verge of a move to Bury.