Sheffield United chief braced for "hazardous" summer in transfer market ahead of Premier League return

Sheffield United are facing a “hazardous” summer in the transfer market, manager Paul Heckingbottom has admitted, after acknowledging that some members of his promotion winning squad are likely to attract interest from established top-flight sides both home and abroad.
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As well as holding talks with owner Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his directors to establish which of his soon to be out of contract players will remain at Bramall Lane next season, Heckingbottom also expects Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge to be the subject of hostile bids ahead of the new Premier League season. The two internationals, who represent Senegal and Norway respectively, are about to enter the final year of their present deals and have previously been coveted by the likes of Everton and Newcastle.

Confirming that some of those who appeared during yesterday’s victory over Birmingham City could have been making their final appearances for United, Heckingbottom said: “There’s always that possibility, yes. I want to keep them and add to the gaps. We’ve got loan players and players who are sought after by other clubs. How hazardous my summer is going to be, yes I‘m going to be anxious. But it’s a great challenge. It’s the challenge we want.”

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On-loan duo Tommy Doyle and James McAtee, who scored United’s second goal at St Andrews, are both scheduled to return to their parent club Manchester City after completing their season long agreements. Heckingbottom would like to retain their services for another 12 months although that would mean at least one - Doyle - being signed on a permanent basis. Sources suggest City could be willing to do business - depending upon United’s valuation of course - so long as a ‘buy back’ clause is inserted into any potential arrangement.

After being prevented from reinforcing his squad during the January window when United defaulted on payments relating to previous purchases, Heckingbottom discovered last month that the ban on processing new registrations had been lifted using money generated from their march into the FA Cup semi-finals where they were beaten by Pep Guardiola’s men. Neither Doyle nor McAtee were eligible for selection at Wembley Stadium.

Oliver McBurnie of Sheffield United celebrates with teammate Iliman Ndiaye: Matthew Lewis/Getty ImagesOliver McBurnie of Sheffield United celebrates with teammate Iliman Ndiaye: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Oliver McBurnie of Sheffield United celebrates with teammate Iliman Ndiaye: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

After learning Everton had made an approach for Ndiaye midway through the campaign, Heckingbottom fought hard behind the scenes to retain the attacker’s services. After seeing him end their hopes of winning the world’s most famous domestic knockout tournament at the fifth round stage, Tottenham Hotspur are also reportedly monitoring Ndiaye’s situation closely. There have also been suggestions that Liverpool, one of the clubs previously owed money by United, negotiated an option allowing them to match any bid for an unspecified member of Heckingbottom’s playing staff before rearranging the debt which was partly responsible for the punishment imposed by the English Football League. The individual in question is expected to be either Ndiaye, Berge or Anel Ahmedhodzic; the Bosnia and Herzegovina centre-half Heckingbottom captured from Malmo last summer.

“I get that we’re not going to be spending what Premier League clubs generally spend because we are still paying off from the last time,” he said, confirming he hopes to privately confirm United’s retained and released list within the next 24 hours. “Then we’ll do our bit by getting everyone together.”