The Blades have adopted a cautious spending policy over the past 12 months since their relegation from the Premier League, not spending a single penny on transfer fees last summer despite managing to secure a £30m deal for the exit of Aaron Ramsdale.
This agreement looked set to revive what was an underwhelming window at that point with only Liverpool loanee Ben Davies arriving at Bramall Lane – but they continued to utilise the loan market and secured three late temporary deals for Conor Hourihane, Morgan Gibbs-White and Robin Olsen – also recruiting free agent Adlene Guedioura the following month.
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The theme of low spending continued into January under Paul Heckingbottom, forking out just £250,000 to lure shot-stopper Adam Davies to South Yorkshire and securing another loan with Charlie Goode arriving from Brentford.
Also moving for Filip Uremovic in March, another cheap agreement with the Croatian suspending his contract at Rubin Kazan to link up with Heckingbottom’s men temporarily, it remains to be seen whether the club’s board provide their manager with a much bigger budget to play with in the coming months.
What division they are in could have a big say on this issue as well as a potential takeover from US businessman Henry Mauriss, with his £115m bid currently being reviewed by the EFL.
Under their current ownership though, the Sheffield Star have reported that their transfer budget for this summer looked set to be “near empty”, though it remains to be seen whether that is still the case.
Adapting back to the second tier and lower revenue is important because there are no guarantees that they will get back to the top tier at the first time of asking, with their poor form under Slavisa Jokanovic providing them with a reminder of that.
Breaching the EFL’s profitability and sustainability rules would be disastrous for the Blades who would probably have to follow a business plan like second-tier rivals Reading will have to in the summer.
However, after generating such a sizeable sum for Ramsdale, United should have enough wiggle room in terms of abiding by restrictions to spend a little bit, especially with relegation clauses likely to have been inserted into contracts.
Spending doesn’t guarantee success and there are plenty of examples of teams who have overspent in the past and haven’t managed to be successful, including Stoke City, but investment is needed in the club’s infrastructure and the first-team squad if Heckingbottom wants to put his stamp on the team.
The 44-year-old deserves the opportunity to spend after doing well with his existing squad and with some first-teamers potentially departing at the end of the campaign, the appropriate funds need to be made available for the second-tier outfit to strengthen, regardless of which division they are in and who they are owned by.