Sheffield United's response to Dean Henderson situation

By his own admission, Chris Wilder is a manager who tries to cover all bases and leave nothing to chance.

Friday, 6th March 2020, 10:28 pm
Updated Friday, 6th March 2020, 10:30 pm

Indeed, midway through January’s transfer window, he revealed strategies were already being devised for this summer’s recruitment drive even though deals for Sander Berge, Panos Retsos and Richairo Zizkovic had yet to be processed.

So it should come as no surprise to learn United have already started making plans for life without Dean Henderson. Wilder hopes they will never be put into action, having already made an approach to renew the goalkeeper’s loan for a third season. But if Manchester United do decide to recall the 22-year-old at the end of the campaign, United are determined to ensure they are not caught short. A list of potential alternatives, Wilder indicated ahead of tomorrow’s game against Norwich City, has already been written up.

Intriguingly, however, he believes United would be well-placed to secure Henderson’s signature if officials at Old Trafford fail to provide assurances about his medium term future there. Never shy about talking-up his credentials or short of self-belief, the former under-21 international has publicly stated he does not want to become David de Gea’s understudy. Particularly, having impressed for United in the Premier League this term, forcing his way into Gareth Southgate’s senior England squad.

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“You’d have to ask Deano,” Wilder responded, when asked if Henderson might return again when his temporary agreement expires. “He is contracted to Manchester United but he has the personality to express his feelings and say where he wants his career to go. But that’s a question for him.

“We’re under Manchester United’s guidance and quite rightly so because he is their player. But everybody knows what we think of Dean and how he’s enjoyed the two years here.

“If he was to leave Manchester United again, I’m sure we would be in the frame. I’d like to think we’d be a contender and that it wouldn’t be ‘a sell’ because they have big plans for Dean looking at his age. But from a loan point of view, hopefully.”

As The Star first reported in January, Wilder opened preliminary discussions aimed at retaining Henderson’s services over the festive period.

Dean Henderson of Sheffield United collects the ball during a Premier League match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

United remain hopeful a deal can be struck, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer choosing to describe de Gea as the “world’s number one goalkeeper” despite a series of errors in recent months. Although the Norwegian’s comments were designed to protect de Gea’s confidence, they will also have been noted by Henderson and his representative as they plot the next phase of his career.

Solskjaer’s position is further complicated by the fact de Gea is thought to earn around £350,00 a week after putting pen to paper on a contract lasting until 2023 towards the end of last year; a figure which puts him beyond the reach of most clubs if Manchester United do decide to move the Spaniard aside to make room for Henderson.

“We’ve got plans if Dean doesn’t come back,” Wilder, who has been linked with Turkey’s Ugurcan Cakir, said. “We’ve talked about it but he’s a Manchester United player which we respect and appreciate.

“I feel we’ve played a massive part in his development as well as giving him the opportunity to learn. But he’s a Manchester United player and we’ve got a lot of respect for that club and the people who work in that building.”

Young Sheffield United fans hold up a sign asking for Dean Henderson's shirt during a Premier League match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

“You have to act on any player, because they could always get the call, so we have to have back ups,” Wilder added. “You always have to be thinking on your feet and having plans and back-ups in case anyone moves on.”

Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson makes a save during a Premier League match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.