Sheffield United: Former loan star "made available" as parent club reach transfer decision

Ben Davies, the defender who spent last season on loan at Sheffield United, will be made available for transfer by Liverpool this summer, according to reports in the north west.

The former Preston North End centre-half, who was a target for United before he made a dream January transfer window switch to Anfield amidst something of an injury crisis for Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League giants, made 23 appearances on loan for Paul Heckingbottom’s side last season.

Although he lost his place towards the end of the campaign – with another man with Liverpool connections, Jack Robinson, preferred for the run-in as United fell short of promotion with a penalty shootout defeat in the play-off semi-finals – United elected to monitor Davies’ situation at Anfield this summer.

Davies, who was affected by illness, injury and personal issues during his time at Bramall Lane, nonetheless impressed United’s coaching staff with his ability and attitude, and they may now have to consider whether to make an approach for the 26-year-old this summer – or risk seeing him go elsewhere.

Liverpool’s decision, as reported by outlets in the city, is perhaps not the biggest surprise. He was signed during an injury crisis for Klopp’s men but with the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate, Joe Gomez, Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips currently ahead of him in the pecking order, the chances of him ever making a competitive appearance for the Champions League finalists appear remote.

The barriers to a potential Ben Davies move

The potential issue for United is his value. Liverpool – as the Blades found out when they signed Rhian Brewster – drive a hard bargain in the transfer market and Davies, who cost the Reds an initial £500,000, would cost many multiples of that figure if he does move this summer.

Paul Heckingbottom speaks with Filip Uremovic and Sheffield United defender Ben Davies: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

His wages are also likely to have received an uplift after signing for one of the world’s biggest clubs from a Championship side – adding to the sense that the ideal time for United to strike was before he went to Anfield, rather than after. United ended up paying as much to loan him for a season as they would have done, up-front, to sign him permanently from Preston.

No regrets

Despite his lack of opportunities under Klopp, and the admission that not playing games affected him mentally, Davies revealed during his time at United that he doesn’t regret the move to the Premier League.

“I asked the main people around me at the time, my dad, girlfriend and friends, and everyone said I had to go for it,” Davies said.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime move and I’d take it again if the chance came up again, every time. Even though I didn’t play a lot of football.

“At the time you don’t know how it's going to go.”

Davies admitted moving to United was a “mental release”.

“I was fifth or sixth choice at Liverpool and to see a route to playing is exciting,” he added.

“It’s good for my mental health to have a means to an end at the end of the week, rather than just training and knowing that you won’t get an opportunity to play.”