Sheffield United's retained and released list still subject to negotiations
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After gaining promotion from the Championship last season, officials at Bramall Lane had been expected to reveal which of the 11 players about to become free agents would be remaining in South Yorkshire next term last week, as Heckingbottom begins the process of constructing a team for Premier League level.
Although the overwhelming majority of those whose agreements are about to expire now know whether or not their services are still required, The Star understands a small band were still discussing the terms of proposed extensions with their agents and representatives of the top-flight side.
United briefed earlier this year that most of those set to depart were subject to either appearance based clauses which would automatically trigger fresh 12 month terms or automatic renewals loaded in the club’s favour. Crucially, however, this was not a blanket arrangement with some of those facing uncertain futures needing to thrash out new deals from scratch.
After being placed under a transfer embargo by the English Football League in January, which was later lifted using money generated by their march into the FA Cup semi-finals, United were effectively prevented from addressing the situation until April - when they made sure of their return to the highest level with a victory over West Bromwich Albion. Heckingbottom’s men, who came second in the table behind eventual winners Burnley, finished 11 points clear of third-placed Luton Town. They beat Coventry City in Saturday’s play-off final at Wembley.
Heckingbottom has made no secret of the fact he wants to retain everyone who helped United secure promotion, including 37-year-old captain Billy Sharp who has been linked with a move onto the coaching staff.
Speaking during an interview with United’s in-house media team on Friday, owner Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud stated that he does not want to see any of Heckingbottom’s leading names leave either.
An announcement, which will reveal whether or not Heckingbottom has got his way, is expected to be made imminently.