Sheffield United manager Slavisa Jokanovic has labelled forward Rhian Brewster ‘one of the biggest talents in English football’ despite a slow start to his Sheffield United career, speaking to the Yorkshire Post.
The 21-year-old arrived at Bramall Lane in a record-breaking £23.5m deal last October, after impressing in Liverpool’s youth setup and scoring 10 goals in 20 games for Championship side Swansea City during the 2019/20 season, proving to be instrumental in getting the Swans into the play-offs.
However, the forward has struggled to adapt to life in South Yorkshire, failing to score a single goal in 27 Premier League appearances last term as the Blades finished bottom of the table, having achieved an impressive ninth-place finish during the previous season.
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Brewster finally opened his Sheffield United account against Carlisle United in the first round of the Carabao Cup last month though and despite only scoring once in 38 appearances, failing to register a single assist for his troubles, he will be hoping this step down a league will be a crucial step in his career after thriving with the Swans in the same division less than two years ago.
Changing his fortunes under Slavisa Jokanovic may even go on to boost the England youth international’s chances of remaining a part of the young Lions’ squad, although his domestic manager has stressed the need for the 21-year-old to improve.
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Ahead of this afternoon’s home tie against Derby County, Jokanovic said: “Rhian needs to improve, definitely, to make a step forward and not be comfortable in his situation because we are talking about one of the biggest talents in English football and he needs to push himself to the highest level.
“We are here to help him and support him but the rest depends on him.
“I don’t want to say he’s not working well enough, he tries, he’s focused and concentrated on all the instruction we give him.
“I’ve tried to use him sometimes in different positions to his natural position.
“Does a guy 21-years-old have a natural position? I don’t know.
“He needs to open his mind, trust himself and work hard with more desire, more focus, more concentration.”
After seeing him arrive in South Yorkshire for such a hefty fee, it’s not the biggest surprise to see Brewster struggling at Bramall Lane. That price tag must weigh heavily on his mind and considering the hype that came with this signing, his failure to live up to those expectations and relegation with the Blades must have been a real blow.
However, he’s been given a new lease of life under a new system and a new manager – and with the promotion pedigree Slavisa Jokanovic has from his time at Watford and Fulham – he won’t get a better opportunity to make amends.
If the 21-year-old can play a major part in guiding the South Yorkshire outfit back to the Premier League, he will have paid back the £23.5m United spent on him, both financially and the faith that was placed in him.
Man management will be key in this situation because from his time at Liverpool and Swansea, you can see the potential he has and what he can bring to the team, but he may need to find his best position before he can start perfecting his game.
Being a jack of all trades and master of none will not be beneficial for his career, so this is the first thing he needs to address before tackling any other priority. Jokanovic seems to rate him highly though, so that’s one bit of good news for the former Liverpool man.