Sheffield United receive contract direction ahead of Premier League return

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Sheffield United have been urged to stagger when the contracts of any players they sign on a permanent basis this summer expire in order to avoid a repeat of the situation they faced following last season’s promotion from the Championship.

With 11 members of their squad set to become free agents this month and the transfer embargo they spent three months operating under soon after Christmas preventing Paul Heckingbottom from renegotiating fresh terms, administrators at Bramall Lane were recently forced to delay publication of the club’s retained and released list as discussions continued.

As he prepares his squad for its return to the Premier League, it is a position Heckingbottom would prefer not to find himself in again. Particularly given that a handful of those agreements lacked extension clauses which could either be triggered by United themselves or the player providing they had made a set number of appearances over the past 12 months.

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With United facing another glut of talks at the end of the forthcoming campaign, when those who have been informed their services are still required will find themselves in the same position again, together with the likes of Iliman Ndiaye, Sander Berge, John Egan, George Baldock and others, coaching staff would prefer to see their latest batch of acquisitions awarded deals containing an array of different expiry dates and conditions. It is a point Heckingbottom is believed to have made when he met with the top brass of both United and United World - which oversees owner Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s sporting interests - in Geneva recently.

That process is now believed to be underway, with Heckingbottom’s employers unlikely to be simply exercising their right to extend many of the contracts which needed addressing by a year.

Given the constraints upon his recruitment budget, which could change if Prince Abdullah sources outside investment, Heckingbottom publicly stated soon after United’s return to the highest level of the English game was confirmed that he wanted to ensure the core of a group which finished second in the table and 11 points clear of third remained intact.