The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at five Sheffield United players who can remain in the Premier League next season.
As we head into the final stretch of the campaign, the Premier League table is starting to take shape. Especially at the bottom end of the charts, it appears Sheffield United are now destined to get relegated after having collected just 14 points in their 29 matches so far, with an average of less than 0.5 points per game.
The Blades are currently 14 points away from safety, meaning they have to make up the same number of points as they have managed throughout the season, in the remaining nine matches to at least have a chance of avoiding relegation.
Despite the rapid demise of Sheffield United, though, their squad undoubtedly boasts some interesting players who might retain their Premier League status next season even after the club gets relegated.
And here, at The Hard Tackle, we are taking a look at five such Sheffield United stars who could end up earning a move back to the top-flight in the upcoming summer transfer window.
Aaron Ramsdale was brought in by Sheffield United as the desired replacement for Dean Henderson, who returned to Old Trafford following the end of his loan spell. It was the only real change to the squad that pretty much remained the same with no eye-catching departures.
Joining the club for a fee of €20 million, Ramsdale had made quite an impression with Bournemouth, who eventually got relegated. And while filling in the shoes of Henderson was always going to be a big ask, it appears the Englishman has done just fine.
Indeed, Ramsdale has averaged 3.6 saves per game this season with a save percentage of 69%. In terms of sheer volume, the former Bournemouth starlet ranks among the top in the Premier League for saves made, which should attract attention from fellow English clubs this summer.
Goalkeepers are already in high demand in the current market as clubs like West Ham, Tottenham and even Leeds United are looking for reinforcements in between the sticks. Spurs, in particular, could make a strong case as they look for a replacement for Hugo Lloris, with Jose Mourinho preferring local talents rather than big-money signings from abroad.
It could make Ramsdale an ideal option as the Sheffield United star has been performing in the Premier League for two consecutive seasons now and at the age of just 22, he could be a smart long-term investment for the Lilywhites.
While Sheffield United have registered the third-worst defensive record in the league so far, Chris Basham, alongside the on-loan Ethan Ampadu, has been one of the few bright sparks for the Blades. Integral to the club’s achievements during the 2019/20 campaign, Basham hasn’t found a similar degree of defensive success as last season.
However, his leadership, coupled with his dogged defensive nature have continued to play a critical role at the heart of the Sheffield United backline. In fact, Basham has registered at least three or more clearances per game along with almost two interceptions and success in headed duels. It has made him one of the protagonists in an otherwise dire defensive display from the Blades.
At the age of 32, Basham is unlikely to attract too many clubs, but a few lower table clubs or even the newly promoted ones could certainly use his experience and leadership in the new campaign.
Sheffield United have registered the worst offensive record in the Premier League this season, finding the back of the net only 16 times in 29 matches. The club’s investment in the young Rhian Brewster has failed miserably while the likes of Lys Mousset, Oli McBurnie and Billy Sharp haven’t offered too much either.
However, in David McGoldrick, the Blades have found one of the most hard-working strikers in the league at the moment, with the former Southampton man now becoming a first-team regular for the club this season.
As a matter of fact, McGoldrick is the club’s top scorer with six goals so far, which is almost half of Sheffield United’s tally of 16 for the campaign. Although not the most productive centre-forwards in the league, McGoldrick could certainly attract some suitors due to his work-rate, energy and ability to offer the physical presence in the final third.
He is also quite useful in counter-attacks despite an apparent lack of pace, so it will be interesting to see whether a return to Southampton will be on the cards for the 33-year-old this summer, especially as the Saints brace themselves for the potential departure of Danny Ings.
It was going to be a difficult choice between Enda Stevens and John Lundstram, but considering the current financial climate, it appears a cheap yet quality full-back could be valued more this summer – effectively giving Stevens the edge.
A left-back by trade, the Irishman has quietly become a key player for Sheffield United due to his work-rate out wide. Indeed, the 30-year-old can effortlessly operate in a three-man pendulating backline as well, boasting a lot of quality going forward. It has turned him into a useful wing-back.
Although Stevens does lack the defensive solidity, he does tend to offer a lot of coverage on the flanks and can operate as a left-winger if necessary. He is also a regular for the Irish national team, having already won 21 caps so far.
It makes him an ideal option for a club like Leeds United, who are looking for a new wing-back or Crystal Palace as they deal with the departure of Patrick van Aanholt.
Among all the players on this list, Sander Berge has attracted the most amount of interest from Premier League clubs, including giants like Arsenal and Liverpool. It is partly due to the reason that the midfielder is almost destined to leave the club in the event of Sheffield United’s relegation to the Premier League.
In addition, the Norwegian is still regarded as a raw talent, who has a lot of room to improve and become an asset to the Premier League in the future. A holding midfielder by trade, Berge is blessed with useful all-round qualities, though he is particularly impressive at offering the ball-progression.
Berge’s technical prowess also suggests that the youngster should thrive in a more possession-based style of play which is why Arsenal’s recent interest in the player is hardly a surprise.