Sheffield United still hope midfielder will sign on

Sheffield United’s contract offer to John Lundstram remains on the table, as officials at Bramall Lane try to persuade the midfielder his long-term future is with the Premier League club.

Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 6:01 am
John Lundstram of Sheffield Utd makes a break during the Premier League match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Picture date: 18th October 2020. Picture credit should read: Andrew Yates/Sportimage

Although talks with Lundstram and his representative are no longer thought to be on-going - manager Chris Wilder confirming they had been presented with a “take it or leave it offer” earlier this year - United’s executives have been instructed not to withdraw the proposal, which would effectively pave the way for a parting of the ways next summer.

Instead, Lundstram has been informed he can still accept the package of benefits presented to him during the close season - which is believed to include a new long term deal and improved salary - at any time; a move which would end speculation linking him with Scottish giants Rangers.

Crystal Palace and Burnley were also reportedly monitoring the player’s situation over the summer, but The Star understands neither made a concrete approach for his services.

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Convinced of Lundstram’s commitment, Wilder has continued to select Lundstram at the beginning of the new campaign, with the 26-year-old starting all five of United’s top-flight outings so far and expected to make his sixth appearance since last month’s return to action against hometown club Liverpool on Saturday.

However, Wilder’s decision to emphasise his belief in Lundstram’s professionalism publicly was a tacit admission that some supporters are not happy about his refusal to put pen to paper on a fresh agreement. Many took to social media to express their concerns following last weekend’s draw with Fulham, which ended United’s run of four straight defeats.

“I have made it clear about John,” Wilder , a lifelong United fan himself, said towards the end of last month. “I’d love him to sign (a new contract) and it might happen.”

“What I’ll also say is that, knowing what people do about how I feel about this club, that I’d never select anyone who I felt wasn’t ready or willing to give their all for it.”

United opened negotiations with Lundstram around 12 months ago but, even though colleagues including Chris Basham, Billy Sharp, John Egan and David McGoldrick have since accepted new deals, they have been unable to reach common ground with the former Oxford captain. In order to protect their investment, and prevent Lundstram from leaving for nothing at the end of last season, United activated a clause enabling them to retain his services for another year.

Wilder is set to be without a number of key names for the visit to Anfield, after John Fleck joined Jack O’Connell and Lys Mousset in the treatment room and Max Lowe suffered a suspected concussion during the meeting with Scott Parker’s side. United are set to reveal later this week if the diagnosis offered by Wilder at the end of that game has been clinically confirmed by their in-house medical team.

“He was complaining of blurred vision, that’s what he said it felt like,” Wilder explained immediately afterwards. “That’s why we substituted him.”