Sheffield United: Hopes of staging major transfer coup are dealt a blow

Sheffield United target James Hill has been the subject of an approach from AFC Bournemouth, as officials on the south coast look to steal a march on their rivals for his signature by opening talks with Fleetwood Town at the start of the transfer window.

Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 2:02 pm

The Star understands reports that preliminary negotiations have begun between Scott Parker’s side and Town about Hill’s potential sale are correct, with the teenager thought to be interested in the possibility of a move to Dorset.

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Although United will not give up, believing there are a number of tactics they can employ to try and influence the defender’s thinking, sources today confirmed that Bournemouth are growing increasingly confident of reaching an agreement for the 19-year-old.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom is an admirer of James Hill: David Klein / Sportimage

Southampton had also been monitoring Hill’s progress at Highbury Stadium, while Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Norwich City and Watford are believed to have sent scouts to watch him in action before Christmas.

United’s hierarchy suggested they waited until the closing stages of the summer market before processing loan deals for the likes of Conor Hourihane and Morgan Gibbs-White because it gave them a chance of achieving ‘better value’ - even though the latter revealed he had first been contacted months earlier. That belief is clearly not shared at the Vitality Stadium, where Parker’s employers now appear to be frontrunners in the race for Hill after making their intentions clear now.

Hill, who turns 20 later this month, has been capped by England at under-20 level and is set to become a free agent at the end of the League One season.

James Hill in action for Fleetwood Town