Sheffield United boss outlines summer transfer wish; 15 players could leave

Boss Paul Heckingbottom has outlined his wish to keep ALL of Sheffield United’s out-of-contract players at Bramall Lane for their Premier League adventure next season – with as many as 15 set to depart as things stand.
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United have two games of their Championship season to go but thoughts have already turned behind the scenes to the summer and beyond, with the Blades returning to the top-flight after a two-year spell in the Championship.

The situation is further complicated by United’s remarkable contract situation and ongoing uncertainty over ownership of the club. Current owner Prince Abdullah still wants to sell, would-be owner Dozy Mmobuosi still says he wants to buy but if no sale, with anyone, can be agreed in the next four weeks, the Saudi royal will continue in situ.

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Boss Heckingbottom has called for a quicker end to the impasse, insisting after the weekend victory over Preston that the four-week timescale is “too long”. The manager, who was due to speak with the club’s hierarchy last week after promotion was confirmed, has “a good understanding of the financial situation right now” and wants to keep United’s plethora of out-of-contract stars – including the likes of Ollie Norwood, Billy Sharp and Oli McBurnie – at the club.

Included in the 15-name list are United’s loanees Tommy Doyle, James McAtee and Ciaran Clark, who will return to their parent clubs initially. Clark is expected to be released by the Champions League-chasing Magpies this summer while officials at City expect United to make an offer to sign Doyle on a permanent basis next season, with Premier League rules preventing another double-loan deal that proved so successful this time around.

Admitting he “hasn’t got a clue” if star man Iliman Ndiaye, McAtee and Doyle will be seen at Bramall Lane in a United shirt again, Heckingbottom added: “I know what I want but if it was that easy, I could relax all summer. But it’s not. From my point of view this is where my hard work starts.

Paul Heckingbottom, the manager of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / SportimagePaul Heckingbottom, the manager of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Paul Heckingbottom, the manager of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“I want all these boys to be here next season. All of them. I know I’ve got no control over the loans, so they’ve gone. But our players, we’ve got options on some and some are out of contract. I’ve got a good understanding on the financial situation right now and I feel we need to keep all the players and then add.

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“It won’t be wholesale changes; it just won’t be. We can’t. So if we’re only bringing five or six players in, they need to be the best five or six players. That means every penny we’ve got needs to go on those players.

“So if we’re losing five or six players out of this squad, that all of a sudden becomes 10 to 12 needed and we haven’t got the money to do that. We’ve just not right now.

“So that’s my aim and we’re going to have the conversations and I’ll find out if it’s achievable or not. This is when the next seven or eight weeks for me will be really big.”

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