Sheffield United takeover talks influence transfers as boss looks to get deals done

Discussions about a Sheffield United takeover have had a bearing on the club’s early manoeuvres in the transfer market, sources with knowledge of its work so far told The Star last night, as Paul Heckingbottom attempts to construct a squad equipped for Premier League football.
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Although the United manager has been handed a £20m budget by United’s current owner Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his associates, he is aware that could rise if the Saudi Arabian either sells his shareholding or unlocks fresh revenue streams.

Senior officials at Bramall Lane including, it is believed, Heckingbottom himself spoke with Manchester City’s football director Txiki Begiristain earlier this week to try and thrash out deals for James McAtee and Tommy Doyle.

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Although at least one of those, most likely Doyle, would have to be signed on a permanent basis in order for United to comply with PL rules, Heckingbottom will be able to tempt both City and the player himself with a more attractive financial package should the sum which has so far been placed at his disposal increase.

That realisation is also believed to have influenced the short list of names Heckingbottom and his recruitment department presented to United’s hierarchy during a strategy meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, last month.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom is attempting to get deals done in the Premier League transfer market: Paul Thomas /SportimageSheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom is attempting to get deals done in the Premier League transfer market: Paul Thomas /Sportimage
Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom is attempting to get deals done in the Premier League transfer market: Paul Thomas /Sportimage

In order to prevent too much disruption, while Prince Abdullah’s representatives continue their negotiations with the three parties understood to have expressed an interest in either backing United or purchasing them outright, Heckingbottom is continuing to work to the assumption his resources will not change.

But contact has been made with agents representing clients who, as things stand, are just beyond United’s financial reach. This is designed to protect their position and ensure they are not left behind if their circumstances suddenly change.

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As well as Doyle and McAtee, United have been linked with a number of potential targets based overseas. They include Brondby midfielder Anis Ben Slimane, who represents Tunisia at international level, Egyptian Mostafa Mohamed and Habib Diallo; Iliman Ndiaye’s Senegal team mate.

Newcastle, Leeds and West Ham are said to be among those also monitoring Diallo.