Sky Sports pundits Glenn Murray and Keith Andrews both praised Sheffield United for negotiating a deal with Arsenal worth up to £30m for goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, in a pre-match discussion before last night’s match against West Bromwich Albion.
It is understood the Gunners will pay an initial £24m for the 23-year-old’s services with a £6m worth of add-ons potentially also coming the Blades’ way, depending on his progression at the Emirates Stadium.
Ramsdale emerged as one of the South Yorkshire side’s standout performers in the second half of last season – and even earned himself a call-up to England’s European Championships squad with Nick Pope being ruled out of the tournament beforehand and Dean Henderson withdrawing after the Three Lions’ first group game.
Quiz: Have Sheffield United won or lost more against each of these 25 English teams?
But his performances domestically weren’t enough to save a doomed Sheffield United team from the dreaded drop, as they finished at the foot of the Premier League table last season having gone winless in their opening 17 games of their 2020/21 campaign.
Their relegation has proved to be detrimental to their chances of retaining the shot-stopper, with Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers initially reported to be monitoring him early in the summer before Arsenal entered the race and ramped up their interest after the Euros had concluded.
After failing in their first two bids to lure him to north London, they look set to succeed at the third time of asking, with Ramsdale currently undergoing a medical ahead of his return to the Premier League.
Speaking before the Blades’ 4-0 defeat to West Brom last night, Glenn Murray and Keith Andrews agreed that Sheffield United had done well to receive such a sizeable eight-figure fee for the goalkeeper.
The latter even admitted his surprise at the deal in the Sky Sports studio and said (quotes from Yorkshire Live): “It’s a massive move, I must admit I’m slightly surprised by it. Two relegations in a row with Bournemouth and Sheffield United.
“I thought he started last season in a similar fashion to most of the players, he was nervy, he improved as the season went on but it’s a significant amount of money.
“They need to balance the books, if some of that money can be used to balance the squad a little bit more, then I think it is a good deal for them.”
Meanwhile, Murray believes this transfer won’t be detrimental to Slavisa Jokanovic’s side despite Ramsdale establishing himself as one of their best players, saying: “I don’t think it will affect them too badly.
“It’s a shrewd bit of business to get more money than they paid for him. The England call will have helped with that and it gives them the chance to reintroduce some fees and give a bit of life into their performances with some new additions.”
Sheffield United only paid AFC Bournemouth £18.5m to bring the 23-year-old back to Bramall Lane last season, so to potentially make an £11.5m profit in just 12 months is an impressive achievement and one they are quite rightly being commended for.
These funds generated by the Blades could allow manager Slavisa Jokanovic to go on a spending spree before the end of the window and judging by their opening three games, it’s clear they need to recruit in multiple positions if they want to get straight back to the Premier League.
Their central defence and midfield have already been identified as areas they need to address, but they should also be looking at recruiting a couple of wingers to give them a different dimension going forward.
Without this, they face a tough first season back in the second tier and after declining heavily since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the next few months could be vital in halting this downfall.
Under a manager like Jokanovic, they can do this but he can only do so much without the correct tools to succeed. And this is why the next 12 days in the transfer market could be vital to their future.