This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Middlesbrough boss Chris Wilder is interested in luring one of his ex-players in Sheffield United centre-back Chris Basham to the Riverside Stadium, Football League World understands.
The 33-year-old has been one of multiple victims of manager Slavisa Jokanovic’s system change from a back three to a flat back four, appearing in just 10 of the Blades’ 17 Championship games so far this season after becoming one of the first names on the teamsheet at Bramall Lane in recent years, even during the club’s Premier League era.
Not only has the Serbian’s system change been detrimental to the central defender’s opportunities, but also the loan signing of Liverpool’s Ben Davies, who has often lined up alongside John Egan as United’s two main starters up until the last couple of games.
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Despite starting against Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers in recent games, being singled out for praise for his performance at the City Ground in the former tie, TEAMtalk are reporting that Basham isn’t in Jokanovic’s first-team plans and would be allowed to leave South Yorkshire in January if the right offer came in.
This would bring the curtain down on a successful seven-and-a-half year spell for the defender with the Blades, making over 300 appearances during that time and taking them from League One to the top tier of English football.
But would it be the right decision to cash in on him at this stage? And how much is he worth amid interest from a Championship rival in Boro?
We asked three of our writers at Football League World these two key questions.
You do feel as though it could be worth Sheffield United taking the money while they can for Basham in January.
With his contract expiring at the end of this season, those in charge of the Blades will no doubt be well aware that the winter window will be their last chance to receive a fee for him.
As a result, given Basham has seemingly dropped down the pecking order at Bramall Lane – starting just six league games this season – and that at 33-years-old he is approaching the latter end of his career, now could be a good time for Sheffield United to bid a fond farewell to the defender.
Nevertheless, the experience that Basham has means he could still be a useful figure around a squad, and given Middlesbrough are a rival for Sheffield United this season, you would expect the Blades to demand at least a small seven-figure fee for the veteran.
The Blades could even let him go for free, a 33-year-old with just half a season left on his contract is not worth a lot in this day and age.
Slavisa Jokanovic clearly thinks that he has better options in Basham’s position and with his deal counting down the player will be keen to seek a new destination where he feels he will be more regularly involved.
Boro have some injury issues at centre back at the moment and so Basham could slot right in. Wilder clearly trusts him a lot and will want to create the right atmosphere in the dressing room.
Acquiring a player who has achieved what Boro want to achieve as a role model and someone who can set the standards on the training ground could be invaluable.
He should be allowed to depart.
If I was Slavisa Jokanovic, I’d be keeping hold of Chris Basham unless Boro came in with a significant bid.
They obviously risk losing him for nothing next summer but the centre-back could be a vital cog in their promotion push this season if the Blades are going to turn things around after Christmas.
He’s a quality defender at this level and is likely a key voice in the dressing room, so he’s someone whose exit could be a significant setback for United.
It’s hard to see the 33-year-old drawing a fee above £1 million and the Yorkshire club are likely one of the richer sides in the division following their relegation from the Premier League, so they won’t be desperate for money at the moment.
Selling a player of Basham’s influence to a promotion rival is a mistake in my books.