Sheffield United: Focus switches to Tom Lawrence as Anel Ahmedhodzic deal is completed

Sheffield United will step up their efforts to sign Wales international Tom Lawrence after Anel Ahmedhodzic, the Bosnia and Herzegovina defender, was unveiled at the club’s Portuguese training camp.

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Previously of Malmo, Ahmedhodzic joined Paul Heckingbottom’s squad in Lisbon today after completing his medical and agreeing personal terms following talks earlier this week.

The centre-half’s presence at the Cidade do Futebol, where United have based themselves ahead of Friday night’s friendly against Casa Pia, allowed negotiators acting on Heckingbottom’s behalf to focus their attention on trying to finalise a deal for Lawrence. A free agent after leaving Derby County, the 28-year-old is also known to boast a number of admirers elsewhere in the Championship but is understood to be interested in exploring the possibility of a move to South Yorkshire.

Ahmedhodzic, aged 23, has put pen to paper on a contract which will tie him to United until 2026.

Heckingbottom revealed the defender had received numerous rival offers, including one from Blackburn Rovers, but chose to accept United’s proposal after first being approached by them in January.

Ahmedhodzic also confirmed Jack Lester’s presence - Heckingbottom’s head of player development worked with the youngster at Nottingham Forest, where he started his professional career - helped swing the race for his signature in United’s favour.

Pictured in action for Bordeaux, Anel Ahmedhodzic has joined Sheffield United from Malmo: ROMAIN PERROCHEAU/AFP via Getty Images

“Jack is one of the reasons why I signed,” Ahmedhodzic said, describing himself as “excited” by the prospect of representing Heckingbottom’s side. “I really liked him at Nottingham Forest. The time we had together was amazing and just what I needed at the time. I am hoping for an even better time here.”

Having unveiled on-loan Manchester City midfielder Tommy Doyle soon after arriving in the Portuguese capital, United are now pressing ahead with their other business in the transfer market.

Goalkeeper Adam Davies’ decision to rejoin them means Heckingbottom’s focus will switch to bolstering his attacking options, although Newcastle’s Ciaran Clark has emerged as potential target after being told he is surplus to requirements at St James’ Park.

Tom Lawrence is wanted by Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

Lawrence is already understood to have held talks about linking-up with United. He scored nine times in 30 appearances for County during the previous campaign, but has chosen to leave after they were relegated from the Championship.

Ahmedhodzic, who could line-up against Casa Pia depending upon international clearance, completed a spell on loan with Bordeaux last season and had been scheduled to join them permanently until the Mamut Atlantique was engulfed by a financial crisis.

“Anel is someone we tried to get in January but we have tracked his progress, stayed in touch and managed to beat off a number of suitors,” Heckingbottom said. “He had a desire to come back to England and what has stuck in his head is that we were early with our interest, got in ahead of a number of other clubs, identified him as a major target and sold the club to him. The connection has been important.”

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom and Jack Lester (c): Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“We’ve had to pay a fee for him, we have managed to get the deal over the line which is great, he will be an important player for us,” Heckingbottom added. “It is important we use every market as we continue to build our squad for the season.”