A lot has been made of Sheffield United’s sustainable approach since the dismissal of Slavisa Jokanovic last month.
Paul Heckingbottom is unlikely to receive significant backing in the January transfer window despite the Blades receiving parachute payments and the lucrative sale of Aaron Ramsdale in the summer. The noises coming out of the club suggest that any signings that will be made in the next few transfer windows will be ones with the long term future in mind.
Going off of that strategy, it would be a sensible investment to pursue current Liverpool loanee Ben Davies’ services on a permanent basis. The former Preston North End centre back is really growing into his role on the left of the back three at Bramall Lane and with Chris Basham’s contract running down he could be someone to turn to with eyes on the future.
Liverpool paid £1.67 million for Davies in January, according to Transfermarkt, demonstrating that a hefty transfer fee would not need to be spent to sign Davies even though he has a contract at Anfield running until the summer of 2025. Centre-backs typically peak a little later than players of other positions and therefore at 26, there is still plenty of time for development with Davies as he is unlikely to decline anytime soon.
The Blades’ defensive solidity was the key area of the pitch that enabled them to perform so well in their first season in the Premier League in 2019/20, so investing in the next generation of their rearguard would be a smart and popular move. Davies’ ball-playing ability is what has made him stand out in recent weeks and begin to thrive with more attacking licence under Paul Heckingbottom.
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Davies’ presence has made Jack O’Connell’s recovery from long term injury a lot easier and relaxed, not needing to rush him back into the side due to the security the 26-year-old has provided. The Blades have been devastating going forward at times this season and if they can start stringing clean sheets together they will be in touching distance of the play-offs in no time.
United have bided their time in the transfer market since relegation from the top-flight, but making Davies a priority in the summer would be a statement of intent and would go some way to getting the supporters completely onside.