Sheffield United manager makes important transfer pledge

Sheffield United’s interest in Sander Berge had been a matter or record for nearly six months before the Norway international, now the most expensive player in the club’s history, completed his £22m move to Bramall Lane last month.

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 4:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 5:00 pm

But Chris Wilder has confirmed that Panos Retsos and Richairo Zivkovic, who joined Berge in South Yorkshire towards the end of the transfer window, were also being monitored by his chief scout Paul Mitchell as United began preparing for their return to the Premier League.

Although he decided against making approaches for the duo back then, Wilder’s admission that neither Retsos or Zivkovic were late additions to his wanted-list provides an insight into United’s recruitment strategy; one which not only tries to identify players with the calibre required to improve their squad but also the right time to strike.

“We’ve moved some people on,” Wilder, who sanctioned the departures of Jake Wright and Richard Stearman, explained, “Which always happens. A couple of them have been great servants to the football club but it’s all about the future. I’ve been delighted with our business. It’s been structured.”

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As Jack Rodwell’s arrival at the beginning of the window demonstrates, Wilder is not averse to making snap decisions and exploiting opportunities.

The former England international had been without a club since the end of last season when, after rejecting an invitation to remain with Blackburn Rovers, a switch to AS Roma fell through.

But as a rule, Wilder and his coaching staff prefer to track potential acquisitions over a prolonged period; marrying the data they collect with calculations about the future performance levels of those already in situ.

Jack Robinson, another new signing, had been on United’s radar for around two years.

Chris Wilder, manager of Sheffield United, with new signing Richairo Zivkovic: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“It’s not a case of this player gets mentioned and then we go for him,” Wilder said. “We’ve watched and tracked these players for a long, long time.”

Retsos, on loan from Bayer Leverkusen and Changchun Yatai’s Zivkovic, another temporary signing, could make their debuts when AFC Bournemouth travel north on Sunday. Berge started Saturday’s win over Crystal Palace, which saw them finish the weekend sixth in the Premier League table.

Jack Robinson, previously of Nottingham Forest, in action for Sheffield United: Robin Parker/Sportimage
Panagiotis Retsos has joined Sheffield United on loan from Bayer Leverkusen: Simon Bellis/Sportimage