Sheffield United: Slavisa Jokanovic ready to get his hands dirty as Arsenal tell Aaron Ramsdale 'It's over to you'

Slavisa Jokanovic, the Sheffield United manager, has reiterated that Aaron Ramsdale remains his first choice goalkeeper as Arsenal prepare to open a new front in the battle for the 23-year-old.

Friday, 13th August 2021, 12:53 pm

In a move designed to prevent the Premier League gaining momentum in their pursuit of a player Bramall Lane’s hierarchy value at around £40m, Jokanovic also told The Star he is prepared to abandon his usual policy of not getting involved in “business” matters if it helps keep Ramsdale in South Yorkshire.

The Serb was speaking after sources at the Emirates Stadium began briefing that Mikel Arteta, Jokanovic’s counterpart in north London, is now considering alternatives options in the transfer market after growing disillusioned by United’s refusal to lower their asking price for a player they signed for £18.5m only 12 months ago. Rather than being an admission of defeat, Jokanovic and his colleagues suspect it is a ploy to encourage Ramsdale to begin agitating for a move.

Confirming Ramsdale is set to start tomorrow’s Championship fixture at Swansea City, Jokanovic was asked if Michael Verrips’ selection for Tuesday’s EFL Cup win over Carlisle means the Dutchman, rather that former Rangers star Wes Foderingham, will step into the breach should Ramsdale depart before this month’s transfer deadline.

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“No, that is not decided and they (Verrips and Foderingham) know it is not decided.” he replied. “I have explained to them clearly that Aaron is first choice. If something happens right now, then there will have to be a second and a third (choice). But ‘first) is the most important. I hope we don’t need to change that opinion.”

Jokanovic is expected to recruit a direct replacement for Ramsdale if he is lured away. Bolstering their options at centre-half and in midfield, with Sampdoria’s Ronaldo Vieira expected to arrive on loan next week, are United’s top priorities at present. But it would be a major surprise if United, who are also interested in Liverpool defender Ben Davies, have not begun assessing potential new goalkeepers should Arsenal strike a deal.

Ramsdale, who graduated from United’s Steelphalt Academy youth programme before joining AFC Bournemouth in 2017, was summoned into the England squad for the recent Euro 2020 tournament. With United surrendering their PL status last term, Arteta believes the opportunity of making an immediate return to the highest level of the English game will prove impossible for Ramsdale to resist as he looks further his international career.

Confirming he has discussed the situation with Ramsdale this week, Jokanovic said: “This is all part of football too. I try to explain it perfectly to him.

Sheffield United manager Slavisa Jokanovic: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“One part of the game is business. I am more a fan of the footballing side but I must be part of the business too.”

“I have intelligent guys here like Aaron, and I believe my expectation is really clear and that he understands me very well,” Jokanovic added. “I understand him too. I try to be honest and explain what is my position. I prefer being involved in the actual game, but I will take the business in my hands as well.”

Aaron Ramsdale: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta: Ian Rutherford/PA Wire.