Sheffield United attacker Iliman Ndiaye has revealed manager Slavisa Jokanovic and his style of play was crucial in him staying at Bramall Lane beyond the summer, speaking to The Star.
The 21-year-old scored twice for the Blades at the weekend in their 6-2 hammering of Peterborough United, making his Championship debut for the South Yorkshire side after barely being involved in the first-team setup in recent years.
However, he signed fresh terms with the club earlier this month, committing his future to Jokanovic’s side until the summer of 2024 and potentially foreshadowing an increased amount of first-team involvement at Bramall Lane.
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The Blades’ poor start to the campaign has potentially helped his case in terms of first-team opportunities, with his side scoring just once in their opening five games, failing to pick up a single win and losing three prior to last weekend’s clash against Darren Ferguson’s men.
And after playing an instrumental part in Saturday’s tie, picking up a brace and creating goalscoring opportunities for a side previously lacking in creativity and potency in front of goal, there’s little chance of manager Jokanovic dropping the Frenchman for tomorrow night’s game, barring an injury.
He has since revealed to the Sheffield Star that it was the Serbian who was key in him staying at Sheffield United after the 53-year-old’s appointment in May, saying: “That’s one of the reasons why I decided to stay (Jokanovic’s appointment).
“The football we play, the style he wants, really suits me and ever since he’s been here he’s had belief in me.
“I’ve always believed in myself. My parents did, my family and my friends did and so did everyone at the club. But most importantly I always believed in myself.
“I just kept my head down and kept training. There were things going on behind the scenes but I didn’t really care about that.”
If Ndiaye’s performance on Saturday is a sign of things to come, Sheffield United fans will be counting their lucky stars that Jokanovic gave him a chance in the first team after seemingly being frozen out of the squad.
In the early stages of the season, you could tell the Blades needed some inspiration from somewhere and those sentiments were echoed by the manager, who said he needed new signings last month to rejuvenate his squad.
Although he has been proven right with Morgan Gibbs-White making an impact against the Posh on his debut, what he didn’t perhaps expect is the fact he could’ve looked internally for this fresh blood in Ndiaye to make such an impact.
For a side that should have potentially signed a few wingers to provide them with more creativity and attacking threat, having the 21-year-old as a presence in the final third will be vital. And considering his lack of minutes for the Blades, he feels like a new signing.
Consistency will be key though if he wants to retain his starting spot, with Luke Freeman also able to come on and do a job if he suffers from a loss of form. He’s made a great start though.