Sheffield United transfer target makes admission which could edge him closer to Man City exit

Sheffield United transfer target Tommy Doyle has told Manchester City that he wants to play regular first team football next season.
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In a move which could enhance Paul Heckingbottom’s hopes of working with the midfielder again, following his successful spell on loan at Bramall Lane last term, sources close to the negotiation process last night informed The Star that Doyle reiterated a desire he first expressed before leaving South Yorkshire during a post-season debrief with City’s coaching staff.

The youngster, who is currently representing England under-21’s at the European Championships, saw his prospects of achieving that aim at the Etihad Stadium diminish when Pep Guardiola’s employers struck a £30m deal for Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic. Given that he performs a similar role to Doyle, the Croatia international’s presence suggests that the youngster will have to depart in order to fulfil his ambition of becoming an established Premier League footballer.

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Providing they can muster the resources to make City a realistic offer, that should put United in the box seat to secure the services of a player who emerged as a driving force behind their promotion from the second tier.

“I want to be out there,” Doyle admitted, after helping United’s return to the top-flight. “I want to keep pushing forward and that means playing in the first team, not going back to the under-21’s. If you ask anyone in my position, they’ll tell you the same thing. I know you’ve got to fight for your place and there and no guarantees of anything. But I’ve come through the under-21’s now, I think I’ve proved myself there and so you always want to take the next step.”

Manchester City midfielder Tommy Doyle made lasting friendships at Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / SportimageManchester City midfielder Tommy Doyle made lasting friendships at Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Manchester City midfielder Tommy Doyle made lasting friendships at Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

City, who also loaned James McAtee to United last summer, held exploratory talks with them about Doyle’s future before beating Internazionale in this month’s Champions League final to complete a historic treble. The fact they are prepared to facilitate more, coupled with Doyle’ admission that “conversations” have taken place before he reported for duty with Lee Carsley’s squad, confirms City will allow Doyle to leave providing a suitable proposal is received - either permanently or on a temporary basis again.

If it is the former, City will insist upon a ‘buy back’ clause being written into the deal. Although United will struggle to match Doyle’s wages in the North-West, he does fit the profile both Heckingbottom and their owner Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud agreed upon when deciding the type of player United should pursue ahead of the new PL campaign.

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Doyle and his England team mates open their Group C campaign with a game against the Czech Republic this evening. They are also scheduled to face Israel and Germany, as Carsley’s side attempts to reach the knockout stages of a tournament which is being co-hosted by Georgia and Romania.

Mateo Kovacic, pictured with Chelsea, will represent Man City next season: Kieran Cleeves / SportimageMateo Kovacic, pictured with Chelsea, will represent Man City next season: Kieran Cleeves / Sportimage
Mateo Kovacic, pictured with Chelsea, will represent Man City next season: Kieran Cleeves / Sportimage

“I’m confident we can do well,” said Carsley, who has included another former United loanee, Morgan Gibbs-White, in his plans. “We tried to pick as many players who have been playing for their clubs, particularly towards the end of the season and there’s plenty of caps in there. I feel like we’re in a good position to really attack every team.”