Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom has revealed he is delighted that Chris Basham has extended his stay for another two years because it gives the club time to identify another centre-back in the transfer market and develop them, speaking to The Star.
The central defender’s future previously looked uncertain with his previous contract due to expire in the summer – and his departure would have been a big blow considering how much of an impact he has had this season.
Initially struggling to get into the starting lineup under Slavisa Jokanovic with the Serbian opting to switch to a flat back four, he has received much more game time under successor Heckingbottom.
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This lack of game time under Jokanovic and injury this calendar year have limited his appearances during the 2021/22 campaign – but he has been a top performer when included and is likely to play a crucial part in the Blades’ play-off campaign.
United did have the opportunity to trigger a one-year extension on his current deal at Bramall Lane if he hadn’t put pen to paper on fresh terms, providing the South Yorkshire outfit with a lifeline.
However, this two-year deal has given the promotion chasers some breathing room in their quest to recruit a potential successor for the experienced central defender.
On this subject, manager Heckingbottom said: “We know, at some point it’s going to be a position we’ll need to fill so that extra year is vital because it takes the pressure off.
“It gives us that little bit of extra time to get things into place, although as far as I’m concerned I see Bash as being part of the future for a good few years to come.”
“It gives us the time to identify someone, get things into place, and maybe develop them.
“And I’ll say it again, that’s why I’m pleased we didn’t just trigger the extension. I made that point.”
Heckingbottom is spot on in terms of Basham being there for a number of years because he doesn’t look like a man coming towards the end of his career at this stage – and has been a real difference-maker since his current manager’s arrival.
One of Jokanovic’s biggest mistakes was not utilising him enough and the Blades suffered because of that during the early stages of the campaign. In the end, that probably played a big part in his downfall and subsequent dismissal.
If United remain in the second tier beyond the end of this campaign, it would be no real surprise to see him appear as one of the first names on the teamsheet next season, being used to a back three in recent years from his time under Chris Wilder.
And even if they are promoted, he would surely be a good influence to have in the dressing room and as a capable backup player, already having top-flight experience under his belt like many others at Bramall Lane.
With that, the club’s recruitment can spend a considerable amount of time recruiting a long-term successor for him and it’s wise that they have this time because Basham will leave a big void at the Lane when he does leave.