Sheffield United: Former defender placed in impossible situation following latest Russian outburst

Filip Uremovic, the former Sheffield United defender, appears to have been placed in an almost impossible situation ahead of his scheduled return to Rubin Kazan after Rusem Saimanov, their general director, claimed the club was “robbed” when its overseas players chose to suspend their contracts.

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The Croatia defender was among a clutch of overseas nationals at the Ak Bars Arena who took advantage of a FIFA ruling to agree short-term deals with teams in western and central Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

With Kazan subsequently being relegated, Saimanov told journalists earlier this week that Uremovic and several of his colleagues had signalled they were happy to stay despite the outbreak of hostilities only to later move elsewhere.

Filip Uremovic of Sheffield United (C) confronts Philip Billing of Bournemouth during a Sky Bet Championship match at Bramall Lane: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

Attributing Kazan’s plight to their exits, Saimanov said: “(It) looks like we just got robbed. We invested money in these transfers, we had obligations, we took out loans to make these purchases.

“They planned to sell the players and pay off these loans. But we don’t have those players now. I firmly believe that the reason for our place (in the table) is only that these players left.”

The journey to Bramall Lane

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom with Filip Uremovic following his arrival at Bramall Lane from Rubin Kazan

Uremovic joined United in March when the world governing body informed non-Russian nationals they were free to work elsewhere until June 30; making three appearances for Paul Heckingbottom’s side. Although he was released by United following their defeat in the Championship play-off semi-finals, officials at Bramall Lane are thought to be open to the idea of offering him a return to South Yorkshire should circumstances allow.

FIFA confirmed it had “no updates” to provide at this point in time when asked by The Star if it planned to extend the moratorium on contracts given the on-going situation in Ukraine.

With Kazan’s slide into the second tier throwing Uremovic’s future there into doubt, Saimanov sounded less than convinced the 25-year-old and others, including his compatriot Silvije Begic, will ever return.

“(That is) something we can predict only after June 30, after the decision of FIFA,” he said, “I’m a realist and I don’t count on it.”

With Russia’s clubs and national sides suspended from UEFA and FIFA competitions, Saimanov continued: “We must understand that for the next three years we will not play in major tournaments, so why collect the team now at all?

“If we do not participate in the qualifiers after the World Cup, then we will not play in the next major tournaments. And why assemble a national team if, in three or four years' time, its composition will have changed?”

The difficuties

Although United privately acknowledge that failing to gain promotion means it would be difficult to sign Uremovic on a permanent basis if he does sever ties with Kazan, they will be intrigued to learn officials there planned to sell him following their demotion to the second tier.

Saimanov did not mention Uremovic by name but was critical of others who had left, such as Denmark’s Anders Dreyer, Sead Haksabanovic of Montenegro and South Korea’s Hwang in-Beom.

“For example, Dreyer received one money from us, then he left and received more,” he said. “He played there right away and scored a lot. So does Haksabanovic and In Beom.”