Clarity provided on future of young Sheffield United international after Sheffield Wednesday trial

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Hassan Ayari, the highly-rated Sheffield United youngster, arrived on trial at city rivals Sheffield Wednesday after asking to leave Bramall Lane, manager Paul Heckingbottom confirmed last night.

Ayari, the teenage Tunisian youth international, appeared for Wednesday's U23s earlier this week as they lost 3-1 to Peterborough United at Hillsborough, after his loan spell at National League North side Scarborough Athletic was cut short late last month.

His trial run out raised eyebrows on both sides of the Steel City divide, after Ayari signed a professional deal at Bramall Lane last year and impressed for Tunisia at the U20 African Cup of Nations.

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And Blades boss Heckingbottom, the former Wednesday defender who will have worked with Ayari during his spell as United's U23s chief, told The Star: "I don't know how it came about in terms of Wednesday, but Hassan had conversations with Del [Geary, United’s academy manager] across the summer. Himself, his family and his representative about wanting to leave.

"We didn't want him to go, we wanted him to play here and be pushed. He had an experience away at Scarborough on loan and I think that was an eye-opener in terms of the levels.

"Sometimes young players can be impatient and not realise how tough it is to be a footballer. Then he had the conversation with Del, that he can look and go elsewhere. At the minute, we don't see him getting in our team. And if he's desperate to leave then he can go and try to find somewhere. He can leave."

Hassan Ayari of Sheffield United has been on trial at Sheffield Wednesday: Simon Bellis / SportimageHassan Ayari of Sheffield United has been on trial at Sheffield Wednesday: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Hassan Ayari of Sheffield United has been on trial at Sheffield Wednesday: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

The practice of U23s players appearing for other clubs in a bid to earn a move is not an uncommon one, although the sight of Ayari crossing the Steel City divide was unusual. Ayari remains under contract at Bramall Lane, meaning Wednesday are unlikely to pick him up on a free - although United have in the past negotiated deals for their academy products which include large sell-on clauses.

"He's not in my plans now. So that's it," Heckingbottom added. "It's up to us what we do. We could let him go on a free, we could keep him here and release him at the end of his contract. We could keep him here, offer him a new deal to protect any interest we've got. There's lots of things still to do."

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Heckingbottom, speaking ahead of his side's crunch Championship clash at home to Burnley tomorrow afternoon, reminded members of the local media that he has previously had success at other clubs in letting players leave with sell-on clauses in their contracts, which have later generated "millions of pounds".

"Keeping them in my reserves or U21s is not increasing their value and someone else can do that for you," the United chief added. "So that's how you run the business side of it and the more players we have playing in the league especially, who have come through our academy, the better it is for us.

"If you're one of our players and you want to go, there's a conversation to be had and negotiations to be had. Some of the best things I've done have been free transfers with big sell-ons. You can't lose. If a player's not going to get the opportunity to thrive where you are, you may as well let someone have that opportunity. They do the work and if they provide that shop window, then brilliant. As that's money you normally wouldn't have got. But that's up to someone else to negotiate and see."

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