The Blades have done probably their most important bit of business this summer in replacing first-choice goalkeeper Dean Henderson with Aaron Ramsdale, but adding depth and competition to the squad has been more frustrating, with less than a fortnight to go until they start the new Premier League season.
Attempts to sign Reading’s John Swift and Nottingham Forest’s Matty Cash have dragged on, while Antonee Robinson joined Fulham despite interest from Bramall Lane. Loan target Rhian Brewster played for Liverpool in Saturday’s Community Shield – missing the decisive penalty – and manager Jurgen Klopp wants to assess the 20-year-old forward before deciding whether to keep him at Anfield next season.
The free signing of goalkeeper Wes Foderingham was agreed before the window opened, but Wilder wants four more new faces, with wing-back, central midfield and centre-forward being the priorities. Whilst he hinted at losing patience in some of his pursuits, he accepts he may have to bide his time with others, with deals possible until October 16 – four matches into the Premier League season.
“We may have to walk away from some deals, we may have to take our time on deals, but there are definitely targets and they are position-specific reflecting on last season and what we need, what worked and what hasn’t worked,” he said.
“If it means player trading then it means player trading, if it means loan market then it means loans, if it means free transfers or a couple of small deals then that’s the way it’s going to be.
“I am frustrated because I want everybody in – that’s the nature of the business.”
The inability to complete a deal for attacking midfielder Swift is particularly frustrating as Reading’s need to sell players and reduce their wage bill is clear. The Blades are understood to have had a £10m bid for right-back Cash turned down by Forest, who last week took Luke Freeman on a season-long loan from the Blades.
Others could leave too. The Blades are open to offers for midfielder John Lundstram because he is in the final year of his contract, while Callum Robinson could be involved in a swap with fellow striker Oliver Burke, having impressed on loan at West Bromwich Albion last season.
There will be more emphasis on balancing the books and the squad in Sheffield United’s first post-Covid transfer window.
“There will be players moving out, we need to make sure that the squad is balanced and ticks a lot of boxes,” argued Wilder. “If the trades and the deals don’t work then they (the players who could move on) are in and they understand that.”
An extra option at centre-forward could be particularly welcome in the short term, with Oli McBurnie withdrawing from Scotland’s September internationals through injury, and yet to feature in pre-season. With the turnaround between seasons so short because of coronavirus, the need for minutes before the September 14 visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers is less pressing.
Reports in Portugal pointed to interest in £18m-rated Almeria striker Darwin Nunez, but the 21-year-old is now expected to join Benfica.
Meanwhile, Ravel Morrison is set to make his international debut despite being released by the Blades. The 27-year-old joined last summer on a one-year contract and spent the second half of the season on loan at Middlesbrough, who decided against trying to keep him.Morrison was called into the England squad as a West Ham player but Jamaica are hoping he makes his debut for them in October.