Sheffield United chief will ask Senegal star Iliman Ndiaye to stay amid interest from other Premier League clubs
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Having scored 15 goals during last term’s promotion from the Championship and represented his country Senegal at the World Cup in Qatar, Ndiaye is expected to attract interest both at home and from abroad during this summer’s transfer window.
After being the subject of a bid from Everton in January, which after failing to pique the interest of his representatives had to be rejected by United’s board of directors, Tottenham Hotspur and Milan are reportedly monitoring Ndiaye’s situation in South Yorkshire ahead of the new campaign. Marseille, the team the 23-year-old has supported since childhood, could also be alerted by reports that he wants to play at the Orange Velodrome at some point in his career. Although United’s coaching staff privately accept that Ndiaye’s advisors are unlikely to encourage their client to extend his contract, particularly given it is scheduled to expire in 13 months time, Heckingbottom hopes the attacker many believe is the most talented footballer to emerge from the Randox Academy development programme could be convinced to complete his deal before moving on to new pastures.
As part of his campaign to convince Ndiaye to stay put for now, Heckingbottom will remind the youngster that he is guaranteed to start almost every match United contest in the top-flight; form and fitness permitting.
As well as finishing what proved to be a historic campaign as their joint-leading marksman alongside Oli McBurnie, Ndiaye claimed 10 assists and helped United reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup where they were eventually beaten by Manchester City.
Given his contractual status Heckingbottom could be forgiven for fearing his employers might be tempted to cash in on Ndiaye rather than risk losing him for nothing in the future; particularly given the pressure on their finances. That, how budgetary concerns might affect the hierarchy’s stance on Ndiaye, is bound to be a key item on the agenda when Heckingbottom’s meets officials from United World, which oversees Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s portfolio of sporting interests, in Geneva on Tuesday.
United were placed under a transfer embargo by the English Football League in January, which was eventually lifted using money generated by the march on Wembley. The punishment, combined with the on-going uncertainty surrounding United’s future ownership after Prince Abdullah entered into takeover talks with Nigerian Dozy Mmobuosi, forced Heckingbottom to postpone discussions with a number of his squad about signing new deals.
Ndiaye made his professional debut for United towards the end of their last stay in the PL, coming on as a second-half substitute during a defeat by Leicester City. That was Heckingbottom’s first match in caretaker charge following the departure of his predecessor Chris Wilder, who had led United to a ninth placed finish a year earlier. Heckingbottom was later handed the job on a permanent basis when Wilder’s eventual successor, Slavisa Jokanovic, parted company with United after only six months at the helm.
After pledging allegiance to Senegal, Ndiaye was awarded a first international cap in June, before making three appearances for them at the World Cup; the final of which came against England during the knockout stages.