Why Sheffield United have decided midfielder can leave in January
He has always refused to go into too much detail, both out of respect for the player concerned and also his team mates - many of whom have recently agreed new contracts with Sheffield United.
But it appears Chris Wilder has now accepted that, unless John Lundstram has a change of heart and decides to accept the offer club officials sanctioned earlier this year, it is best if the midfielder leaves Bramall Lane in January; four months before the Premier League season is scheduled to end and five until he is scheduled to become a free agent.
It was around a year ago when Wilder, having just ended United’s 12 season absence from top-flight competition, first began fielding questions from the media about Lundstram’s situation. After watching him make a flying start to the campaign, impressing in the new advanced role coaching staff had created following the club’s promotion from the top-flight, Wilder expressed his confidence that the former England under-20 international would quickly sign on the dotted line after being invited to discuss terms with the club’s hierarchy. But as time passed, and with Lundstram refusing to follow the lead of colleagues such as John Fleck, David McGoldrick, Billy Sharp and John Egan by putting pen to paper, that belief quickly dissipated. Although they attempted to buy themselves some time by taking up an option to extend Lundstram’s deal by another 52 weeks, The Star understands senior figures behind the scenes at United have now tired of the situation and are prepared to sell him when the transfer window reopens.
That decision will have been taken following consultations with Wilder and members of his coaching staff, who are now planning for a future without a player they plucked from obscurity at Oxford United three years ago and - for a few amazing months - helped turn into one of the most talked about midfielders in English football, as victories over the likes of Everton and Arsenal laid the foundations for United’s ninth placed finish.
Wilder was prepared to entertain all sensible bids during rhe close season. However, despite reported interest from Crystal Palace, Burnley and Rangers, not one was received.
Lundstram has started all six of United’s league outings since competition resumed last month, and is expected to face Manchester City this weekend. United have no concerns about his professionalism, with Wilder going out of his way to shield Lundstram from any criticism during United’s recent training camp in Scotland.
"If it’s his decision to run his contract down, then that’s his decision,” Wilder said, during their stay at Oriam near Edinburgh. “If he doesn’t put it all in, then I won’t pick him for the team.”
"Supporters need to be comforted that I’ll always fo the right thing for the football club,” Wilder, himself a lifelong United fan, added. “They know that’s always going to be the driver of everything we do.”
But the situation is unlikely to have sat comfortably with either the manager or his employers; both of whom have now decided it can no longer be allowed to cause a distraction.