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Dom Howson’s Sheffield Wednesday column: Why Owls only need to sign one new centre-half

Frederico Venancio hopes to rejoin Wednesday
Frederico Venancio hopes to rejoin Wednesday
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Very reasonable price. Absolute bargain. Get him signed up.

That was how a big proportion of the Owls fan-base reacted to the news that Frederico Venancio would cost £800,000 to sign on a permanent basis from Vitoria de Setubal this summer.

Wednesday are interested in signing West Ham United defender Reece Burke on loan

Wednesday are interested in signing West Ham United defender Reece Burke on loan

Given the astronomical transfer fees and wages clubs have to shell out to buy players these days, bringing Venancio back to Hillsborough for a six-figure sum would represent very good value for money.

After a difficult start to his season long-loan spell at Wednesday, Venancio impressed and established himself as a key component of Jos Luhukay’s defence. He put in a string of fine displays in Luhukay’s three-man defence, performing well alongside Tom Lees and Daniel Pudil.

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There are still some parts of Venancio’s game which he must tidy up. His distribution out from the back needs to improve and there are times when he ought to be more physically imposing in duels with strikers.

All that being said, Venancio is 25, has Championship experience under his belt and his best years should be in front of him.

Venancio, a former Portugal Under-21, has expressed his desire to rejoin the Owls and it is no secret Luhukay wants him back as he looks to lay solid foundations for the future.

But Wednesday are keeping their options open should the club’s pursuit of Venancio hit the buffers.

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It has emerged West Ham United youngster Reece Burke is on the Owls’ radar. He can operate at full-back or centre-half and spent time on loan at Bolton Wanderers in the most recent campaign. Perhaps most importantly of all, Burke fits the profile in the type of player Luhukay wants to recruit.

“We must look to the U23s of big clubs in the Premier League, where you also have players with high dynamic, with a high spirit but also ones who can maybe develop in the future,” Luhukay recently said.

Although Wednesday have released Glenn Loovens and Venancio has returned to his parent club, central defence is not a department of the team where they are short on numbers. If Luhukay decides to stick with three at the back next season, he has Tom Lees, Joost van Aken, Morgan Fox, Connor O’Grady, Frederik Nielsen and Jordan Thorniley as centre-half options. Sam Hutchinson can also play in defence but it remains unclear what Luhukay regards as his best position.

It is why I feel Wednesday only require one new centre-half. If they sign two, the danger is it will potentially hinder the development of academy players such as O’Grady, Nielsen and Thorniley and block their pathway to the first-team.

And given the Owls have little money to spend as they fight hard to remain within Profit and Sustainability rules, it would make financial sense to recruit just one new defender.

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