Sheffield United receive conclusive proof about just how important Iliman Ndiaye is to them

Iliman Ndiaye’s value in the transfer market is still more than a quarter of the total worth of Sheffield United’s first team squad combined, according to the world’s most respected sporting research units.
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Academics from the CIES Football Observatory believe the Senegal international would command a fee of around £15m if he was sold during this summer’s window. According to their investigation into the options at Paul Heckingbottom’s disposal, that represents 26 percent of what United could expect to receive if they sold every senior player on their roster; which means a side that won automatic promotion from the Championship last season could raise around £60m in fees.

The figure the CIES has placed on Ndiaye reflects the fact that he is about the enter the final 12 months of his present contract, with a series of events behind the scenes preventing Heckingbottom from renegotiating the Senegal international’s deal before he featured for his country at last year’s World Cup in Qatar. Ndiaye’s performances there, coupled with his stellar displays in United colours, have attracted the interest from a host of established top-flight sides both at home and abroad. Despite those displays, which saw him score 15 goals in 56 appearances last term, Ndiaye is likely to be among the lowest earners at Bramall Lane.

Iliman Ndiaye is the most valuable player within Sheffield United's squad by some margin according to the CIES: Gary Oakley / SportimageIliman Ndiaye is the most valuable player within Sheffield United's squad by some margin according to the CIES: Gary Oakley / Sportimage
Iliman Ndiaye is the most valuable player within Sheffield United's squad by some margin according to the CIES: Gary Oakley / Sportimage
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With United once again the subject of takeover speculation and having only just emerged from a transfer embargo, Heckingbottom has warned his employers it would be a mistake to sell either Ndiaye, Sander Berge or both ahead of the new Premier League campaign. Like Ndiaye, Berge is also set to become a free agent next summer and, despite being happy to remain in South Yorkshire, does not appear inclined to extend his agreement.

One possible way for United to extricate the situation they have found themselves in would be to offer Ndiaye a significant salary increase providing he accepts a fresh contract but insert a release clause into those terms.

That could lure Ndiaye’s representative to the negotiating table, after he refused to push through a move to Everton in January when Heckingbottom was prohibited from drafting in reinforcements by the English Football League. The punishment was imposed when United defaulted on debts owed to rival clubs.