Sheffield United: Midfielder bid not dependent upon Arsenal target leaving Bramall Lane
Sheffield United’s interest in Conor Hourihane, the Aston Villa midfielder, is not dependent upon Sander Berge leaving Bramall Lane.
Although Berge’s future at the club remains in doubt, with Napoli, Arsenal and Atalanta all thought to be interested in acquiring his services, John Lundstram’s departure during the close season means a vacancy already exists within United’s engine room.
Hourihane, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Swansea City, features on a list of names Jokanovic has identified as potential replacements for the Liverpudlian.
Tom Cairney, who played under Jokanovic at Fulham, is another. But, as The Star reported earlier this month, the Londoners’ valuation means he is currently beyond Unitred’s reach.
West Bromwich Albion, who like United were relegated from the Premier League last term, are also monitoring Hourihane’s situation at Villa Park ahead of a possible loan move.
However, after spending three years at Barnsley before moving to Birmingham, the Republic of Ireland international could be tempted by the possibility of a return to South Yorkshire.
Hourihane’s record in front of goal, combined with his experience of winning promotion at both Oakwell and Villa, are major factors behind United’s decision to consider recruiting Hourihane.
He scored 32 times in 126 outings for Barnsley and nine in 48 when United went up via the play-offs.
Jokanovic admitted he will try and persuade Berge to stay after officially taking charge earlier this month. Napoli believe they are in pole position to secure his signature should Jokanovic fail. But like his other suitors, they have no intention of meeting United’s £35m asking price.