Sheffield United hope Man City midfielder favours them

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Sheffield United hope the connections James McAtee made at Bramall Lane last season will tip the race for his signature in their favour if, as expected, Manchester City allow the midfielder to leave the Etihad Stadium on loan next term.

Together with his City team mate Tommy Doyle, McAtee emerged as an influential member of the United squad which won automatic promotion from the Championship after joining Paul Heckingbottom’s side on a temporary basis.

Although finance could prevent him from bringing McAtee back to South Yorkshire, Heckingbottom has made it clear he would like to continue working with the 20-year-old who is set to be awarded a new contract by Pep Guardiola’s side. Speaking to The Star before United’s top-flight status was confirmed, McAtee revealed how he rejected an invitation to spend the campaign with City’s sister club Girona in order to accept United’s proposal. That suggests Guardiola and his coaching staff will ultimately allow the youngster to decide the next step of his career after presenting him with a list of potential destinations. If so, and Heckingbottom’s employers feature on it, then United believe the friendships McAtee forged during his time at their training complex could prove decisive.

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Although Heckingbottom is likely to have raised the possibility of renewing his agreement with McAtee before the end of the previous campaign, the former Barnsley, Leeds and Hibernian chief must now calculate whether City’s demands fit within the parameters of what is a severely restricted recruitment budget by PL standards. McAtee is set to command a much higher loan fee than 12 months ago, given the progress he has made under Heckingbottom’s tutelage. City’s desire to reward that with a fresh agreement could also potentially increase the sum of money required to help subsidise his salary - all of which could make it difficult for United to piece together a compelling proposal.

Nevertheless, Heckingbottom will continue to explore the possibility of prolonging McAtee’s association with United.

Aston Villa, Brighton and Hove Albion, Leeds and Burnley, now coached by City legend Vincent Kompany, have also been credited with an interest in McAtee.