Persistence ultimately pays off as Sheffield United sign Ryan Leonard

New Sheffield United signing Ryan Leonard (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage).
New Sheffield United signing Ryan Leonard (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage).
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SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Chris Wilder believes that patience has proved a virtue after finally landing long-time target Ryan Leonard.

Having seen four previous bids turned down for the Southend United midfielder, it has proved a case of fifth time lucky for the Blades, who have signed the 25-year-old for a fee of around £700,000.

The 6ft 1in Devon-born player, Southend’s player of the season for the past two campaigns, has signed a three-and-half year deal.

Wilder, also seeking to complete a deal for Wolves’ midfielder Lee Evans ahead of Friday’s Steel City derby, said: “We wanted him in the summer, but that was not possible, so we have been patient, continued to monitor his progress and we are delighted that this has been completed early in this window.

“We want to add quality to our ranks and Ryan fits that criteria. There is quality available, including in League One, and we hope he will prove to be a great acquisition for us.”

The arrival of Leonard, and quite possibly Evans, could also have positive ramifications for Doncaster Rovers, who are in talks with the Blades to sign ex-loanee Ben Whiteman.

The 21-year-old returned to Bramall Lane last week after being recalled by the Blades due to a shortage of midfielders, but with the possibility of him returning to Rovers if the situation changed.

Rovers manager Darren Ferguson said: “It is more about negotiating a permanent now as opposed to a loan. I always felt when he went back that there would be a lot of interest in him and I always felt it might turn into a permanent move, which suits me really anyway.

“The boy really wants to come back, which is a big help, so we just have to see how it goes with the negotiations.”

Leeds United are set to seal a deal to sign left-back Laurens De Bock today, pending completion of a medical.

The 25-year-old, who won the Belgian top-flight title with Club Brugge in 2016, is keen to move after losing his first-team place.

The ex-Belgian Under-21 international flew to England from Brugge’s winter training camp in Spain on Monday night.

United have completed the signing of Japanese midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi from Gamba Osaka for an undisclosed fee, believed to be around £500,000.

Ideguchi, who has signed a deal until the summer of 2022, will join Spanish Segunda Division side Cultural Leonesa on loan until the end of the season.