Sheffield Wednesday need to tie down ‘immense’ Osaze Urhoghide – regardless of which division they’re in
Against Barnsley, Osaze Urhoghide showed a maturity beyond his years to help end Sheffield Wednesday’s winless run – they should be using the international break to get him tied down.
The 20-year-old was a key performer for Darren Moore on the right side of a three-man defence at Oakwell on Saturday, where his intelligence, reading of the game, athleticism and strength were all on show to bring to a halt to the Tykes’ impressive run of form.
Urhoghide’s ability to fend off a potent Barnsley attacking line alongside Tom Lees and Julian Börner showed a couple of things – firstly that he’s now very much a first team footballer, and secondly that it’s absolutely no surprise that he’s got clubs across Europe watching him.
You see, ‘Big O’ has got so many of the traits that you look for in a defender… Yes, he’s got a couple of mistakes in him because he’s still just a 20-year-old kid fighting at the bottom of the Championship, but he’s also got the mentality and attributes to recover from them.
That’s what makes him a bit special.
From people I’ve spoken to, Urhoghide is like a sponge in terms of the way that he learns. Which is why his improvement has been so rapid… He’s always learning. Every game he plays, every training session he has, is almost like a top-up for him.
Now he’s working with Darren Moore – who had an impressive career in English football – and has a perfect mentor to help him keep stepping up, and keep improving.
After the Barnsley win, Moore said of the defender, “I don’t like to pick out individuals because I thought they were all excellent, but he was immense today in terms of his performance. In terms of his contacts, in terms of getting in the radar of the opponents and spoiling it - he was absolutely rock solid.
“The back three will take plaudits, and it was a team effort, but if you’re looking at him as an individual I thought his performance was solid today.”
And he was.
But now there’s a problem again, isn’t there… He’s out of contract in July, there are people sniffing about, and who can blame them?
He’s a 20-year-old athletic centre back with a handful of Championship experience and a European passport. So there will be no courtesy of waiting until May, if a club in Belgium or wherever wants to sign him, the fact that he was born in the Netherlands means he could sign a precontract tomorrow.
He doesn’t want that, we’re told. His focus is on trying to keep Wednesday up. He’s not even entertaining any interest from elsewhere, and there’s plenty of it.
But regardless of that, it would be a travesty if he moved on in July, and in some ways would be a worse situation than what happened with Liam Shaw.
Because with Shaw, there’s an element of ‘but he only just burst onto the scene’. That’s not the case with Urhoghide. We saw the potential over a year ago, and so did the club because they exercised their one-year option and there was talk of an extension.
Then he got injured, and things went quiet.
He’s also not homegrown, so if he leaves for free, the compensation will be pittance. It shouldn’t really have gotten to this point.
We don’t know the financial situation, we never will, but even if Wednesday went down, you’d like to think that the prospect of regular football under the tutelage of an exciting young manager like Moore, would be enough to persuade him to stick around.
But only if he feels wanted, respected and has some form of security.
Yes he’s a kid. Of course he’s not going to get a massive payday at Wednesday yet, that needs to be earned. But he’s an established first team footballer now, he’s a regular and should be treated as such. He deserves that.
Quest TV pundit and former England international, Dean Ashton, was full of praise after the game at Barnsley, and you know he won’t be the last.
“He’s only 20-years-old,” he said. “And he made the most tackles today… Most people might have seen him in the interview after his debut - how happy he was after making his debut in professional football - and I think it shows in his performances still that he’s so eager to impress.”
Wednesday have a plethora of contracts expiring at the end of the season. Some of them will get renewed, others won’t, and many of those decisions will be right. There does need to be a reshuffle at Hillsborough that doesn’t revolve around whether relegation is confirmed or not.
But Urhoghide shouldn’t fall into that, and neither would Liam Shaw in ideal circumstances. Keeping hold of him should be up near the top of their priority list, even if for no other reason than the fact that he could be worth a pretty penny if his progression continues at its current trajectory.
Our understanding is that there’s still time left, and that Urhoghide has in no way made a decision that he’ll be on his way in July…
Now it’s up to the club to do their best to make sure that he’s still wearing blue and white next season. If they do that, and he feels like his career can progress under Moore and at Hillsborough, then you’d like to think he’d stick around.