The key theme that makes Sheffield United recruitment impressive - Alan Biggs

Sheffield United’s summer signings were never going to be eye-catchers. But neither was Anel Ahmedhodzic at this time last year – look how that’s turned out.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

And there’s a theme to like about this summer’s business with striker Benie Traore becoming a third addition.

The key is who they keep. If you can’t afford ready-made Premier League material - the Blades are a long way from that - then you need to tick two other boxes in particular.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Youth and potential. The first is needed to balance the age of a squad that has long-serving players at its core. The second is a judgment on whether players can be developed to measure up to the challenge.

Benie Traore joined Sheffield United this week as their latest signingBenie Traore joined Sheffield United this week as their latest signing
Benie Traore joined Sheffield United this week as their latest signing

United appear to have met each of those criteria with their opening acquisitions of the summer, Anis Slimane and Yasser Larouci, both aged 22; the first permanent and the second loaned for a year with a view to a full transfer.

Midfield and wing-back were areas of need also in terms of athleticism and competition.

You’d imagine there will be two or three more arrivals to follow aimed principally at other areas of the squad, although Nottingham Forest’s Lewis O’Brien has been of interest to join Slimane as a midfield option.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A striker will be the most expensive - maybe at £5m for Ivory Coast international Traore from Swedish side Hacken, another young player at 20.

But is Traore seen as a replacement for the heavily Marseille linked Iliman Ndiaye?

As pragmatic and reasonable as the recruitment drive looks, no amount of window-dressing could make up for the loss of such a gifted match winner.

The one sensible part is that, if you are forced into this position, you get your signings done first.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

You don’t react after the event when you are in receipt of money that makes pricings go up.

I can’t fault United on that score if this is the case.

If Ndiaye wants to join his favourite club in France and won’t sign a new deal at Bramall Lane then there is a limit to what can be done.

But the overriding hope is that manager Paul Heckingbottom can convince the hierarchy of the value of investing heavily in a new contract offer.

One that’s good enough to protect both club and player.

Ndiaye is an asset who could then be sold full price if United are relegated back to the Championship.

Maybe insert a release fee clause into the contract.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And who’s to say Ndiaye would be happy to walk away from a season in the Premier League, which is the best shop window for his talents?

Keeping this player would be a bigger boost than any signing.

More than that, the success of the recruitment bundle could depend on it.