Sheffield United's summer transfer window - The big dilemmas facing The Blades
Sheffield United have been linked with plenty of new players during this summer’s transfer window.
But, as Slavisa Jokanovic prepares to take charge, some members of the squad he will inherit next month are being linked with moves away from South Yorkshire too following United’s relegation from the Premier League.
The Star’s James Shield gives his view on some of the proposed moves and whether or not they make financial and sporting sense.
United expect the Norway international to leave before the end of the window. Indeed, although they won’t say so publicly, they would like him to move on.
Not because there are any doubts about the 23-year-old’s quality. Rather, after losing their Premier League broadcast and solidarity payments after being relegated last term, they acknowledge he is their most valuable asset. Well, with Aaron Ramsdale estimated to be worth around £5m more, the most valuable asset they can sell this summer without provoking a furious reaction among supporters. That explains why, as The Star revealed before United’s demotion was confirmed, a broker with the authority to act on their behalf approached both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur towards the end of last term to ascertain if they would be interested in signing him.
Although Spurs refused to take the bait, their north London rivals did, having already begun to compile a dossier on Berge when it became apparent United were heading for the Championship. Napoli have also since shown their hand, after missing out on Berge when he left Genk 17 months 17 months ago. With their bid being orchestrated by sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli, new head coach Luciano Spalletti has now given his seal of approval to the deal. Like Arsenal, however, the Italians are unwilling to meet United’s £35m asking price.
Ideally, with John Lundstram refusing to extend his contract, they would prefer to keep Berge. But after a mix and match start to his career in England and then a serious hamstring injury last term, it will not disrupt them too much if he heads for pastures new. Providing United reinvest the money they receive in the playing squad, it will be a sensible sacrifice and one worth making.
Norwich City are said to be keen on the former Derby County defender, who arrived at United as part of the deal which also brought Max Lowe to Bramall Lane last summer. A potential fee has not been mentioned. Although, with United paying an initial £5m to sign the duo, if City do decide to firm-up their interest then the price they propose is likely to represent a pretty hefty profit.
Like Berge, Bogle has yet to truly establish himself in South Yorkshire. And, like Berge, he is at the beginning of his professional career - preparing to celebrate his 21st birthday towards the end of next month.
However, unlike Berge, Bogle quickly adapted to life in South Yorkshire - scoring on his top-flight debut against Brighton and Hove Albion in December - before going on to produce more solid performances. He is also capable of performing a defensince or more attack minded role.
If Jokanovic makes good on his promise to persevere with the 3-5-2 system which served his predecessor so well until last term’s downturn in results, Bogle is likely to be an important member of the Serb’s squad next term.
City have more money to spend than United. But whatever they offer - if they offer something - it is unlikely to be enough to make the deal seem sensible.
Ten months ago, actually even make that six, if you'd have said Ramsdale would be attracting admiring glances from one of the country’s traditional footballing heavyweights people would have laughed. Laughed in your face. Re-signed for £18.5m from AFC Bournemouth, only three years after being sold to them for around £1m, the goalkeeper made a chequered start to life back in South Yorkshire before a superb second half of the campaign saw him named as United’s player of the year.
The moment Ramsdale was summoned into the England squad for this summer’s European Championships - soon after United were relegated from the Premier League - it was inevitable he would be linked with a switch elsewhere. Even though the former under-21 international has made it clear, after being loaned out to Chesterfield and AFC Wimbledon at the the beginning of his career, he has no desire to pack his bags and head for pastures new again. “I want to put down roots,” he told The Star midway through last term and, with Jokanovic being unveiled as Chris Wilder’s successor, hasn’t changed his view since.
Although Wes Foderingham is a more than able deputy - and recognising that United belief Ramsdale is worth £40m on the open market - it makes no sense to sell him. Yes, an experienced replacement could be drafted-in. But this would only park the problem temporarily, with post Covid-19 inflation likely to limit United’s ability to recruit a replacement of comparable quality. Aged 23, Ramsdale’s best years are ahead of him. And if United have serious ambitions of not only regaining PL status but also establishing themselves there, those need at Bramall Lane.
Not so long ago, the midfielder seemed destined to be the next big thing to roll off the Steelphalt Academy conveyer belt. Derby County, who were still big hitters in the Championship at the time, were said to be interested in the youngster after watching him make his senior breakthrough during Wilder’s first season in charge.
Although Slater’s career has not quite progressed as either he or United would hope, that is probably down to the fact United rose so quickly up the pyramid rather than any lack of ability on his part. Unless Jokanovic can guarantee him regular football, United should let him move on - albeit only after inserting a ‘first refusal’ clause into any deal.