Sheffield United receive reminder about Man City's policy as they investigate transfer swoop

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Sheffield United have received further evidence that Manchester City would insist on negotiating a buy back arrangement for Tommy Doyle before entering into discussions with Sheffield United about the midfielder’s future.

A member of the squad Paul Heckingbottom steered back into the Premier League last season, Doyle has since admitted he would “love” to return to Bramall Lane next term if a first team opportunity at the Etihad Stadium does not prove forthcoming.

Heckingbottom, who signed Doyle and James McAtee on loan from the reigning English champions, is also keen to continue working with both the 21-year-old and his team mate. However, competition rules dictate that in order for this to happen, at least one must be recruited on a permanent basis.

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As The Star revealed last month, City could be tempted to consider the possibility of selling Doyle if a suitable offer is received. However, as a variety of sources reported at the time, teams willing to offer them the chance to bring him back to the North-West at some point in the future would be granted preference in any future talks.

Lending further weight to these claims, one of the world’s leading football research units has named City as the side which holds more transfer rights over players than any other on the planet after analysing the recruitment models of 100 leading clubs. Pep Guardiola’s side boast 46 options, including first refusal or purchase clauses, on 46 professionals either currently at their disposal or working elsewhere. According to researchers at the CIES Football Observatory, these are worth more than £1.4bn. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool complete the top six, closely followed by Bayern Munich and Paris St Germain. PSG’s rights are worth nearly £750m, the CIES’ academics calculate.

Despite expressing his desire to retain Doyle’s services, Heckingbottom is understood to privately accept that the constraints upon his recruitment budget make brokering a deal difficult.

Tommy Doyle won promotion with Sheffield United: Darren Staples / SportimageTommy Doyle won promotion with Sheffield United: Darren Staples / Sportimage
Tommy Doyle won promotion with Sheffield United: Darren Staples / Sportimage

However, it would be a surprise if he does not make an exploratory approach for Doyle given the impact he made in South Yorkshire; amassing 38 appearances and scoring four goals in the process.