It is unrealistic to suggest that United could have held on to Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire or Dominic Calvert-Lewin once Premier League clubs came knocking, especially considering they were a League One football club when the latter two departed.
But it is more the total fees received for players who have commanded, or could command, a total of almost £200m that rankles with many.
There is some comfort, then, that lessons of the past seem to have been learned. Once Arsenal’s interest in Aaron Ramsdale became known, many Blades will have feared the worst. Ramsdale may yet depart before the first ball is kicked in the Championship, but the fact that United value him at around £40million should allay at some of those worries.
Everton's former Sheffield United striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin linked with move to Arsenal after Real Madrid speculation
United would do well to heed the lesson of Walker when it comes to Jayden Bogle, the young former Derby County right-back who is on the radar of Premier League new-boys Norwich City if Max Aarons is sold this summer.
Signed last summer in a bargain £5m double-deal with former Pride Park teammate Max Lowe, Bogle had to bide his time as he got up to speed with how United play before announcing himself spectacularly, scoring on his Premier League debut at Brighton and ending his first top-flight season with three goals in 12 starts.
It is incidentally Tottenham Hotspur, who signed both Walker and Kyle Naughton from United in a bargain £8m double-deal in 2009, who could set the transfer chain in motion this summer if they lose Serge Aurier. A £30m move for Aarons has been mooted and if that comes off, Daniel Farke and Co. are expected to turn their attentions to Bogle.
At 20, Bogle is just a year younger than Aarons and has played only around 30 fewer senior games. As of now, both have one season in the Premier League on their respective CVs – which both ended in relegation – and although it hasn’t been confirmed publicly what United’s board value Bogle at, why should it not be a similar amount?
Some may scoff. But transfer fees in football stopped making any sort of rational sense a long time ago and United must consider not only how good Bogle is now but, at 20 years of age and with so much potential, how good he can be in years to come.
Sure, everyone has a price and like every player in world football, Bogle would be sold at the right one. But he is also United’s asset – and, by the looks of things, the days of the Blades rolling over and having their bellies tickled for the best of those are hopefully over.