Sheffield United identify their priority position in this summer's transfer market - but there's one problem

Sheffield United have placed an attacking midfielder at the top of their wanted list in this summer’s transfer market, despite acknowledging it will prove difficult to complete any deals until a new manager has been appointed.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 5:30 pm

With Chris Wilder’s replacement yet to be installed - more than two months since the 53-year-old departed Bramall Lane - staff tasked with identifying and tracking potential targets have effectively continued adhering to the plan he devised and then honed during four-and-a-half-seasons in charge.

Despite severing their ties with Wilder, who could make a swift return to the game with West Bromwich Albion, United kept his assistant Alan Knill and head of recruitment Paul Mitchell on the payroll.

Mitchell, one of the most underrated talent spotters in English football, endorsed Wilder’s interest in Reading’s John Swift last summer and although the former Chelsea player eventually remained at the Madejski Stadium, United are investigating whether it would be worthwhile attempting to resurrect that deal - providing the next man at the helm gives his blessing.

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Ryan Gauld, who is expected to leave Farense following their relegation to the Portuguese second tier, is another name being linked with a move to South Yorkshire.

Having also been relegated from their country’s top-flight, unveiling Wilder’s successor is United’s number one priority. But with Sander Berge expected to leave and John Lundstram declining countless invitations to extend his contract which expires next month, they already know where they must strengthen in order to give themselves the best possible chance of gaining promotion from the Championship - regardless of who takes over.

Luke Freeman, who spent last term with Nottingham Forest, could be given a chance to impress while Regan Slater is hoping to catch the eye after completing his loan spell with Hull City. However, neither of the two men are prolific in front of goal - a quality United would prefer future acquisitions to possess.

With the board of directors reviewing the selection process via Zoom before Sunday’s win over Burnley, which brought down the curtain on what proved to be a disappointing campaign, United heard caretaker Paul Heckingbottom again call for a permanent appointment to be made “as soon as possible.”

Sheffield United's caretaker manager Paul Heckingbottom: Tim Goode/PA Wire.