Sheffield United look set for a busy couple of weeks in the transfer market. Paul Heckingbottom is in need of new arrivals for his midfield and forward departments.
It’s the two areas of his squad most in need of work. As things stand, he is looking at a minimum of three signings, with a forward to replace Iliman Ndiaye and two domestic loans bolstering his squad.
However, he is hoping for more depending on how the window pans out and how far he can stretch his budget. He has to take into account his 25-man squad limit, but players aged under 21 don’t count. There is money to spend following the sale of Ndiaye to Marseille.
He had earmarked Middlesbrough’s Chuba Akpom as the ideal replacement but reports claim Sheffield United have decided against matching Ajax’s bid. That has placed more emphasis on the need to get Cameron Archer through the door.
The 21-year-old is also wanted by Luton and a host of Championship clubs but would prefer Premier League football, putting the Blades in with a strong chance of landing his signature. It’s now up to United and how they proceed, either on a permanent or with a loan.
Heckingbottom is clearly an admirer of the forward having tried to sign him in January before the transfer embargo. He looks set to miss out on Akpom with his move to Holland almost complete and he was reported to be keen on Malik Tillman before he joined PSV on loan.
In an ideal world, he would love more than one attacker and could still make loan decisions on Daniel Jebbison and Will Osula if he gets his wish.
He has brought in three midfielders but still wants more in this department. He is currently in talks with former Everton man Tom Davies and is hoping to reach an agreement with the free agent, while Heckingbottom has also asked for updates on Tommy Doyle, James McAtee and Cole Palmer from Man City.
He is not likely to get an answer until closer to the end of the window. Both McAtee and Palmer have featured under Guardiola already this season and have travelled with the squad to Athens for the UEFA Super Cup final against Sevilla. Doyle does not appear in his plans and would be the easier of the three to do.
The player would be happy to return to Bramall Lane and Heckingbottom knows he will fit straight in. However, the Blades boss does not want to move too early on his domestic loan options given the fact that he can only make two.
Doyle would also be the dream signing for the fanbase, who would love to see him return. Carney Chukwuemeka is another player who has long been a reported target and could now be an option.
He started Chelsea’s opening-day draw with Liverpool but the arrival of Moises Caicedo and their intention to sign Southampton’s Romeo Lavia means Chukwuemeka could now be set for a loan move.
Heckingbottom wants attacking-minded midfielders who can get forward, contribute goals and assists and support the attack, hence his interest in McAtee and Palmer. He also wants to add more athleticism to his squad and Chukwuemeka is another who ticks a lot of boxes.
He also has that little bit more pedigree, having featured for Aston Villa and Chelsea in the Premier League.
There are a lot of irons in the fire at the minute as Heckingbottom and United’s transfer brokers weigh up their moves carefully. The Blades boss has not ruled out returning to Europe for another loan.
A dream window for the Blades boss will be three to four more signings, giving his squad a real lift both in terms of numbers and quality. He is conscious of time and how smaller the options become the longer the window goes if they miss out on more.
Heckingbottom had called for a breakthrough this week ahead of the Nottingham Forest match having been left frustrated at an ‘opportunity missed’ regarding the state of his squad for last weekend’s Premier League opener.
If he can get the numbers he wants from those names linked so far, most of which have whet the appetite of supporters already, this frustratingly disorganised transfer window could still have a dream finish.
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