Sheffield United: Transfer 'targets' rated as boss hopes to make a breakthrough

Sheffield United have been linked with a flurry of names in recent days, as manager Paul Heckingbottom attempts to reshape his squad ahead of the new Championship season.

Wednesday, 29th June 2022, 4:13 pm

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The Star’s James Shield identifies some of those players who have been put forward as potential signings and reveals the likelihood of them actually arriving at Bramall Lane - if not before August 1st’s visit to Watford then ahead of the transfer deadline.

Anel Ahmedhodzic

Earlier this month, a senior figure at United revealed they had submitted a bid for an international player whose current club could trigger an option contained within his contract. Ahmedhodzic spent last term on loan at Bordeaux from Malmo, with the French side negotiating an option to purchase at the end of the deal. Join the dots. Put two and two together and come up with four.

However, with Les Girondins being relegated from Ligue 1, a move to the Matmut Atlantique is unlikely to appeal to the former Nottingham Forest centre-half. That situation needs to be sorted out before United can begin finalising a move for the 23-year-old, who switched allegiance to Bosnia and Herzegovina after previously representing Sweden. But Ahmedhodzic is keen on a return to England.

Tom Lawrence

Malmo's Swedish defender Anel Ahmedhodzic (L) vies with Wolfsburg's Austrian midfielder Xaver Schlager: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

With Oli MBurnie unlikely to start the season and Heckingbottom suggesting that Rhian Brewster will be eased rather than thrust back into action following his own injury issue, United need to bolster their attacking options.

Captain of Derby County, Lawrence is proven at Championship level having scored nine times in 30 appearances last term. He was admired by Wayne Rooney too, before the former England marksman quit his position at Pride Park following the collapse of a takeover bid.

With County paying big money before their finances descended into chaos, matching Lawrence’s wages could prove difficult for United when his contract expires this week. West Bromwich Albion are unlikely to have any such problem, though, after reportedly making contact with the Welshman’s representative. However, they are now thought to be pursuing other potential leads too.

Tom Lawrence of Derby County interests a host of Championship teams: Cameron Smith/Getty Images

Josh Doig

The Hibernian full-back is admired by United and known to Heckingbottom, having completed a cross city move from Edinburgh rivals Heart of Midlothian midway through his spell in charge at Easter Road.

Scotland is also viewed as an area of interest by officials at Bramall Lane, as they look to circumnavigate some of the financial challenges they face in this summer’s window.

Josh Doig is a wanted man this summer: Craig Williamson / SNS Group

Despite all of that, however, Heckingbottom distanced himself from a move for Doig during a series of interviews last week. That could be because a number of Italian sides and Premier League outfit Brentford are known to be monitoring his situation - effectively putting the 20-year-old beyond United’s reach should they firm up that interest.

Charlie Cresswell

One of several central defenders United are interested in, it was inevitable they would be linked with the youngster the moment he began openly discussing the prospect of temporarily leaving Leeds. Cresswell’s father Richard used to play for United and that connection immediately prompted people to join the dots.

Admired by former manager Marcelo Bielsa, the teenager appears destined for big things at Elland Road. But with the pressure on to gain promotion, Heckingbottom could prefer to bolster his defence with proven rather than up-and-coming talent.

Millwall, who United face in their first home match of the new season, are also interested. Indeed, their manager Gary Rowett is already thought to have met Cresswell and can offer him regular first team football. That probably suits him better.

Charlie Cresswell of England U21's and Leeds: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Ben Davies

Now back at Liverpool following the end of his season long loan, the centre-half isn’t likely to stay there for long. Jurgen Klopp, Davies’ manager at Anfield, is prepared to let the former Preston North End defender move on having failed to use him since paying the Championship club a little over £1.5m to acquire him two seasons ago.

Davies’ stay with United was overshadowed by injury, personal and illness issues. But with those now behind him, Heckingbottom knows he would be a quality addition to their ranks.

However, after demanding a £500,000 facility fee from United last term, Klopp’s employers now want £4m to sell Davies permanently. Given their interest in Ahmedhodzic, that puts him out of their price range. The situation underlines the folly of failing to process the initial cut-price deal Heckingbottom’s predecessor Chris Wilder had negotiated with Preston before Liverpool stepped in.

Adam Davies

The Wales international goalkeeper finished the season with United, signing a short-term contract after negotiating his release from Stoke City. Heckingbottom has openly admitted he wants to bring him back, although Davies has yet to agree a deal despite discussing his situation with the manager last month.

A regular member of the squad Robert Page guided to this winter’s World Cup in Qatar, that is almost certainly because he wants to assess all of his options before committing. Davies made no secret of the fact he wanted to actually play rather than simply watch first team football before returning to South Yorkshire, where he had previously worked with Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday.

If someone can offer him a regular starting berth, you suspect he will choose that above competing with former United team mate Wes Foderingham.

Nya Kirby

Released by Crystal Palace at the end of the season, the 22-year-old fits the profile of player United are interested in almost perfectly. He is young, talented and relatively cheap given his lack of experience at Championship level.

A member of the England squad that won the under-17 World Cup five years ago, Kirby is predominantly an attacking midfielder - a position Heckingbottom needs to fill following the end of Morgan Gibbs-White’s loan.

But - and this will also be attractive for United given they plan to operate with a smaller squad next term - he can operate in other positions too. Indeed, two of his senior appearances saw him perform a defensive role.

Adam Davies joined Sheffield United from Stoke City: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Paul Heckingbottom and Ben Davies (right): Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Nya Kirby has left Crystal Palace: Warren Little/Getty Images