Six Sheffield United transfer targets and possible new recruits identified and analysed

Sheffield United have been linked with a number of players since confirming Slavisa Jokanovic as their new manager, with the former Watford and Fulham chief set to officially take charge on July 1st.

By James Shield
Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 3:30 pm

James Shield, The Star’s United writer, analyses some of those either hoping for moves to Bramall Lane or who are known to be on the club’s radar.

Joe Allen

The midfielder has been told he can leave Stoke City this summer, as part of a financial restructuring exercise at the bet365 Stadium. Currently on duty with Wales at the European Championships, Allen will address his future in Staffordshire - and the next step of his career - when Robert Page’s side return from the tournament.

Sheffield United hope to be in good shape for the start of the new season: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Although City will not officially place Allen on the transfer list, they have identified a list of potential buyers. United are among them, with Jokanovic expected to bolster his options in the centre of the pitch before the start of the new season.

Although he has told his new employers that he does not plan to make wholesale changes to the squad he will inherit next month, the Serb has identified this as a priority position with John Lundstram already waving goodbye to South Yorkshire and Sander Berge expected to depart.

City have no concerns about Allen’s ability, or his fitness despite requiring treatment for a couple of injuries last term. However, they do want to lower their wage bill following several years of laviah investment by second tier standards.

Previously of Liverpool and Swansea City, where he twice won promotion before moving to Anfield, Allen is used to performing in high-pressure environments and is one of the technically accomplished players outside of England’s top-flight. However, Jokanovic could decide he is too similar to Oliver Norwood, who he worked with at Fulham and confirmed will be “an important player” as United look to regain their elite level status at the first attempt.

Tom Cairney

The moment Jokanovic was confirmed as Chris Wilder’s successor, it was inevitable United would be linked with the Scotland international. The two men forged a successful partnership at Craven Cottage, winning the Championship play-offs in 2018, and Cairney is known to be a huge fan of Jokanovic’s methods.

The uncertainty surrounding Scott Parker’s future in west London - he is expected to take charge of AFC Bournemouth shortly - has added a further layer of credence and intrigue to United’s supposed interest in a player who turned professional with Hull City before arriving in the capital following a spell with Blackburn Rovers. Various well-placed sources have suggested he would welcome the prospect of working with Jokanovic again, while Bramall Lane is closer to his home city of Nottingham.

But with Fulham said to be demanding £10m for Cairney, and given their reputation for paying handsome salaries, this could be a difficult deal for United to progress. The loss of Premier League status is likely to hit them much harder than Fulham, who were also relegated, but have the luxury of being owned by a billionaire. Having turned 30 in January, if Cairney does move then his resale value is likely to be negligible at the end of his next contract. However, that must be balanced against the fact his presence would enhance any squad in the division - hence his present employers’ efforts to discourage rival clubs from expressing an interest.

Sam Clucas

The second of three players who were always likely to be touted as possible signings for United this summer, Clucas is a team mate of Allen at City and another member of Martin O’Neill’s squad officials there would like to move on in a bid to cut costs.

Aged 30, the midfielder’s qualities are well-known at United. Paul Mitchell, who is set to remain as head of recruitment following Jokanovic’s arrival next month, was responsible for taking him to Chesterfield in 2014 during his time in north Derbyshire and has tracked his protege’s progress ever since.

Standing six feet and two inches tall, Clucas’s physicality would be a welcome addition to a United midfield which could be left looking a little lightweight if Berge follows Lundstram through the exit door.

Had Chris Wilder remained in charge, Clucas would have been an archetypal United signing, having made his way through the lower leagues before helping Hull reach the top-flight by beating Sheffield Wednesday in the 2015 play-off final at Wembley. But Jokanovic has his own thoughts on what is best for United, after studying the options soon to be at his disposal.

Dion Sanderson

United have been keeping tanks on the young Wolverhampton Wanderers centre-half ever since his move to Sunderland on loan last season. Although he missed their ill-fated League One play-off campaign through injury, the 21-year-old impressed in the North-East and has been the subject of a £1m bid by Lee Johnson’s side. That was immediately rejected by Wolves, who are willing to let Sanderson move on but want more than double that amount before sanctioning his departure.

With Phil Jagielka leaving South Yorkshire when his contract expired at the end of last season, Jokanovic knows United’s rearguard is in need of reinforcing. Sanderson has Championship experience, having played 10 times for Cardiff City during a loan spell there earlier in his career.

Age-wise, he also fits the profile of the type of player United would prefer to sign - with his value only set to climb if he continues on his current trajectory.

Jonathan Kodjia and Adlene Guedioura

The duo both worked with Jokanovic at Al-Gharafa last season, helping the Qatari’s reach the qualifying rounds of the AFC Champions League. Kodjia, the former Aston Villa forward, and Guedioura, the Algeria midfielder, would welcome the prospect of linking up with United’s new manager again. However, 31 and 35 respectively, age might count against them. On Kodjia’s part, United are also well-stocked with forwards and would sell before adding to their quota.