Sheffield United's players handed future warnings ahead of Blades' big summer rebuild in transfer market

As many as 18 players could leave Sheffield United this summer with potential relegation sales on top

Chris Wilder and his coaching staff have made decisions on the players they want to remain part of the Sheffield United journey going forward and although there is still time for the balance to be redressed in the final five games of this season, the Blades chief admits he will be disappointed “if someone starts playing like Ronaldo or van Dijk” now their futures are up in the air.

A host of players are set to become free agents in the summer and although Wilder has publicly stated his intention to extend Ben Osborn’s contract, a host of familiar faces are facing uncertain futures ahead of the summer. The likes of John Egan, Oli McBurnie and George Baldock all could walk away from Bramall Lane this summer for free, as things stand, as could previous first-team regulars including Wes Foderingham, Rhys Norrington-Davies and Ollie Norwood.

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With relegation back to the Championship looking increasingly likely, especially after Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at home to second-bottom Burnley, United have one eye on the future ahead of a big summer rebuild. Cameron Archer will return to Aston Villa if the Blades do drop, while Anel Ahmedhodzic and Vini Souza are unlikely to see Championship football as a benefit to their careers and may move on.

“It's arguably the biggest thing we've talked about since we came in,” said Wilder ahead of the Blades’ midweek trip to Manchester United. “Where we want to go, from an identity and culture point of view. There are decisions to be made. It is difficult; there's a group that are injured, and a group who are out of contract who potentially know their fate, and a group of loan players who know they're going back. And there’s a group of young players trying to find their feet in the Premier League., so there are a lot of moving parts in there.

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“To bring those together is a challenge that at times we've got right but we all have to take responsibility and I will always do that but come on players, take some responsibility as well. Do your job, have the courage when it's going against you to drag that back and if you are playing well in that zone, carry on and be a proper football player. Decisions have been made, I don't think there will be many changes now, but there are five games.

“I'll be disappointed if someone starts playing like Messi or Ronaldo, or van Dijk from a defensive point of view, in the last five games. Because I'd be saying: ‘Where was it 14, 15 games ago, or the start of the season?’ Those decisions have been made over a period of time, I want the players to play well. Even if they are coming back into the side or going back to their club or are out of contract ... the whole world is watching. The whole Football League will be watching. So there's no downside to not playing well, even if you feel your future isn't going to be here.”

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