Sheffield United: Slavisa Jokanovic on whether Aaron Ramsdale's absence from EFL Cup squad means a move to Arsenal is close

Aaron Ramsdale’s absence from the Sheffield United side which advanced to the second round of the EFL Cup was not designed to protect his value amid interest from Arsenal, Slavisa Jokanovic has told The Star, although the Championship club’s manager did admit he used last night’s meeting with Carlisle to assess the other goalkeeping options at his disposal should “something happen.”

Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 12:26 am

Jokanovic selected Michael Verrips for the tie against Chris Beech’s side, omitting Ramsdale from his squad altogether after naming Wes Foderingham on the bench.

With Mikel Arteta known to view the competition as an opportunity to ease Ramsdale into his starting eleven should he move to north London.

Jokanovic’s selection picks ahead of the 1-0 win prompted speculation that an agreement with Arsenal is close.

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But the Serb reacted by describing Ramsdale as “my first choice” between the posts, despite suggesting one of this summer’s longest running transfer sagas is not over yet.

“There is nothing in his absence, no, nothing,” Jokanovic said. “I just needed to give some players a chance and others a rest.”

“Aaron is my first choice, that I can definitely say,” he continued. “But I need to see what other people can do in case something happens. What other options we have and what other choices are here.”

Ramsdale, aged 23, is understood to have been the subject of two unofficial approaches from Arsenal since returning from Euro 2020 duty with England. Both of those fell short of United’s £40m valuation of a player they signed for £18.5m less than 12 months ago, with Arteta, Jokanovic’s counterpart at the Emirates Stadium, considering whether to return with a third or pursue alternatives lines of enquiry.

Aaron Ramsdale: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

Verrips, who spent the second half of last term on loan at FC Emmen, was making only his second appearance for United against Carlisle. Foderingham, previously of Rangers, featured once last term.

“The victory gives us the chance to see if we can give him a chance,” Jokanovic said of Verrips, after watching Rhian Brewster’s maiden goal for United seal United’s progress. “And we will discover more.”

Jokanovic plans on recalling Ramsdale when his team returns to action at Swansea City on Saturday night.

Sheffield, England, 10th August 2021. Slavisa Jokanovic manager of Sheffield Utd during the Carabao Cup match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Picture credit should read: Darren Staples / Sportimage
Michael Verrips signs for Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage