Sheffield United consider an investigation into striker's long running issues
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Mousset competed less than 25 minutes of Monday’s game against Nottingham Forest, having been ordered to take part in the fixture because of concerns about his fitness.
With the 25-year-old now apparently certain to miss this weekend’s game against Liverpool - although United have frequently resorted to subterfuge over the past month to try and disguise their selections - manager Chris Wilder is likely to effectively rule the player out for the remainder of the campaign.
But behind the scenes, with a parting of the ways over the summer growing increasingly likely, medical staff will investigate if Mousset is suffering from an acute case of misfortune or whether something else is at play. Wilder, aware it would be counterproductive to express his concerns explicitly, has intimated on several occasions he fears a lack of professionalism and focus away from the pitch is responsible for suffocating the Frenchman’s potential.
“We need our best players available,” Wilder said earlier this term. “And Lys, I don’t need to remind anyone, is definitely one of those. Even if he’s got work to do, we all know what he’s capable of.”
Although he later apologised for making light of the knock Mousset received during a pre-season friendly against Preston North End - he later required surgery to repair a damaged toe - Wilder is known to have been frustrated by the striker’s decision to return home before the end of the 2019/20 schedule, while a series of other off the pitch incidents have helped fuel concerns about his lifestyle choices.
Signed from AFC Bournemouth following United’s promotion from the Championship two years ago, Mousset has started only 22 percent of their matches since, despite being regarded as one of the most, if not the most, gifted members of Wilder’s squad.
Known for his lack of patience with high-maintenance footballers, the United manager has nevertheless frequently attempted to distract attention away from Mousset’s personal issues. Soon after his arrival in South Yorkshire, Wilder attributed Mousset’s failure to make an immediate impression to the protracted nature of his transfer to United. However, it later became apparent this was not the case, with Wilder and his assistant Alan Knill instead believing Mousset had simply failed to keep himself in shape.
With relegation back to the second tier seemingly inevitable - United are preparing for the meeting with Jurgen Klopp’s side 14 points adrift of safety with only 13 games remaining - Wilder could choose to give Mousset another chance to prove himself next term. But, with patience behind the scenes now wearing painfully thin, the process of finding a suitable buyer could soon get underway unless a series of private meetings with Mousset serve to convince Wilder of his commitment.