Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder, owner Prince Abdullah and chief executive Stephen Bettis will this week discuss their plan, and their budget, for the summer’s transfer window.
The Blades showed in January they were prepared to be flexible by stealing a march on clubs wanting to sign midfielder Sander Berge.
“We had a budget for the January window excluding Sander but when the opportunity happened Prince Abdullah was extremely keen for us to pursue that,” explained Bettis, who also revealed the options to make loans for central defender Panagiotis Retsos and centre-forward Richairo Zivkovic were purely in the hands of Sheffield United.
“When doors open, we have that ability to act and act quickly,” said Wilder proudly.
“It’s a big number (to sign Berge) and it smashed our transfer record yet again but we looked where we needed to improve or add vital competition. It was key we did, so I’m grateful and thankful for the players we brought in.”
The whole point of promotion to the Premier League for us is also looking to create a legacy.Stephen Bettis, Blades chief executive
The deal which brought Berge from Champions League side Genk made the Norwegian international a £22m club record signing, although the fee is spread over a number of years.
“Sander was looked at by us in the summer originally and it was something that didn’t happen but he was still on our radar,” revealed Bettis.
“There was other interest in Sander and we caught them on the hop because a lot of them were thinking they’d do it in the summer when he had 12 months left on his contract.”
Jack Rodwell and Jack Robinson were also signed in January.
This week’s meetings in Dubai will revise the summer budget in light of the Berge outlay, plus results which could bring extra prize money and potentially demands should they qualify for a first European campaign.
“Before the January window even opened, we had a plan in terms of our monetary sum, but also a plan for the forthcoming summer,” said Bettis.
“It’s something we’re now revisiting.
“Chris has already highlighted positions (he wants to strengthen in the summer) and by the end of the week we’ll be close to agreeing numbers so Chris knows exactly where he can start looking to strengthen.”
The Blades are determined to invest in the longer-term, too, with a training-ground revamp close to sign-off.
“The whole point of promotion to the Premier League for us is also looking to create a legacy,” argued Bettis. “We’re close to finalising a new first-team building to be built in the summer and, hopefully, ready for next season.”
Wilder is often portrayed as “old school” but the plans for Shirecliffe show what an over-simplistic caricature it is.
“In terms of the intensity of the Premier League, recovery being key and video analysis going through the roof, these are things we need to keep pace with,” he argued. “We want to improve our players in all aspects, from a physical point of view, a technical and tactical point of view. These things will attract players, I’m sure.”
The training ground is one of the property assets the club will buy from previous owner Kevin McCabe this summer as part of the deal which saw Prince Abdullah take control earlier this season after a protracted High Court battle.
“It’s paid for by the club but ultimately Prince Abdullah owns the club and what money’s required to cover that, if needed, will come from him,” explained Bettis.
“I don’t think fans need to worry. What’s happened in January shows the intent of the owner and the board to support Chris and the first team.”
How the Blades target their signings: Page 22