Sheffield United could be asked to enter into Man City arrangement for midfielder

Manchester City will insist upon inserting a buyback clause into any deal which sees Tommy Doyle join Sheffield United on a permanent basis, before even deciding whether to open negotiations with the newly promoted club.
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As The Star revealed last week, officials at the Etihad Stadium expect Paul Heckingbottom’s side to approach them about the possibility of purchasing Doyle after watching the midfielder impress since joining Paul Heckingbottom’s side on loan. Although an approach from Bramall Lane has yet to be received, Heckingbottom has confirmed that both the 21-year-old and James McAtee, also borrowed from City, are the “type of player” he would like to work with when United embark upon their third top-flight campaign in the space of five seasons.

Doyle pointedly refused to rule-out a return to South Yorkshire after emerging as an influential member of the squad which ensured it will join Pep Guardiola’s men in the Premier League next term by beating West Bromwich Albion last week. In order for that to happen, competition rules stipulate that United must acquire at least one on a full-time contract. City have no plans to sell McAtee, preferring instead to continue monitoring his development before deciding whether or not to assimilate him into Guardiola’s team. That means Doyle is a more realistic target for United, even though the Catalan and his staff have no intention of completely cutting their ties with the England under-21 international.

James McAtee and Tommy Doyle (right) have been huge successes for Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / SportimageJames McAtee and Tommy Doyle (right) have been huge successes for Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
James McAtee and Tommy Doyle (right) have been huge successes for Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
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United began preparing for their return to the highest level of the English game before Saturday’s win over Preston North End. Stuart McCall, Heckingbottom’s assistant, confirmed the process of deciding which of the 11 players whose contracts are set to expire will be offered fresh deals, see 12 month extensions triggered or informed they can move on is set to continue ahead of Thursday’s visit to Huddersfield Town; the penultimate match on United’s 2022/23 schedule. He also confirmed that United will again look to make good use of the temporary market, given the financial constraints Heckingbottom is likely to be operating under.

Prince Abdullah, United’s owner, discussed budgets with Heckingbottom on a video conference call over the weekend. But the Saudi Arabian, who discovered before the meeting with Preston that Dozy Mmobuosi is still interested in taking control of United despite seeing his period of exclusivity end, remains minded to relinquish his shareholding despite recent results.

Doyle has made 36 appearances for United, scoring four goals in all competitions. The most recent of those saw Heckingbottom’s employers reach the FA Cup semi-finals where they were eventually lost to City at Wembley. Neither Doyle nor McAtee were eligible for selection during that fixture. But both made the journey to north London.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom: Simon Bellis / SportimageSheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

United entered into a buyback arrangement with Liverpool before making Rhian Brewster their record signing three years ago. The centre-forward has been absent since October due to a hamstring complaint but hopes to regain fitness by the time United resume training following their summer break.

After facing Town, United contest their final fixture of the season at Birmingham City next week.