Sheffield United draw up summer shopping list as they receive a warning about midfield target
Sheffield United have compiled a shortlist of attacking midfielders Slavisa Jokanovic has identified as possible new signings ahead of next season, as the first phase of a makeover designed to help the club regain its Premier League status at the first attempt.
United, who have confirmed John Lundstram is among four senior players being released at the end of their contracts, also expected to lose Norway’s Sander Berge after being relegated last season.
Although Jokanovic would welcome the prospect of working again with Tom Cairney - a member if the Fulham squad he led to promotion from the Championship in 2018 - there is a realisation at Bramall Lane that the Londoners will be reluctant to sell the Scotland international to a direct rival after they were also demoted last month.
The £10m price tag officials at Craven Cottage have slapped on Cairney is designed to ward off interest in someone Jokanovic’s successor Scott Parker would prefer to keep in the capital, with sources within the game predicting it could rise even higher if United decide to confirm their interest.
That has prompted the Serb, who was unveiled as Chris Wilder’s replacement last week, to draw-up an number of alternative options which were presented to owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s footballing advisor Jan van Winckel ahead of a recent meeting with the Saudi Arabian in Geneva.
Although a new centre-half also features on Jokanovic’s wish list, with Phil Jagielka also following Lundstram, Simon Moore and Jack Rodwell through the exit door, someone capable of bringing pace, power and creativity to United’s engine room is his priority - particularly with Ismaila Coulibaly, currently on loan at Beerschot, likely to remain on the continent because of post-Brexit work permit legislation.
Berge, who until Rhian Brewster’s arrival from Liverpool in October was United’s record signing, is set to end his stay in South Yorkshire ahead of the new campaign after speaking publicly about his desire to play Champions League football again having appeared in the tournament for Genk.
Arsenal are leading the chase for his signature, with United demanding offers of around £35m.