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…
There is a new dynamic at Sheffield United now that Paul Heckingbottom has taken over from Slavisa Jokanovic and there will be a fresh chance for members of the squad to come back into favour.
One player that needs a fresh start at Bramall Lane is Oliver Burke with the attacker having been a bit-part player under Jokanovic and he was unable to convince the Serbian that he could have a long-term future with the Blades.
It has been reported by TEAMtalk that Middlesbrough are potentially interested in signing Burke from Sheffield United in the winter window with Chris Wilder eyeing a reunion with his former player. That report also added that it was a move that the attacker would be keen to make in order to get more playing time.
However, with Heckingbottom now in charge, we asked some of our FLW writers whether they feel Burke could have a future once again at Bramall Lane…
It would be somewhat of a shock if Heckingbottom decides to give Burke the opportunity to prove his worth in the coming weeks as the Blades boss currently has a host of attacking options to choose from.
Billy Sharp, Rhian Brewster and David McGoldrick all managed to impress during Sunday’s 2-0 victory over Bristol City whilst Lys Mousset is expected to challenge for a place in United’s starting eleven when he is fully fit.
With Middlesbrough understood to be interested in a potential swoop for Burke, Heckingbottom ought to consider selling the Scotland international as his performances at this level in recent years have left a lot to be desired.
In the 33 games that he has played in the Championship during his career, Burke has only managed to score six goals which is an incredibly underwhelming return.
There might be a place for Oliver Burke in Heckingbottom’s squad as a bit-part player, but I can’t see him being one of the first names on the teamsheet for the South Yorkshire outfit unless he can get back to the performance levels he showed at Nottingham Forest in getting his move to RB Leipzig.
There would be space for him to start in behind Rhian Brewster or Billy Sharp as an inside forward, something that could give him great encouragement, but his lack of first-team football may mean it takes him a little while to get back up to speed.
His appearances on the bench should also be a reason for optimism for him, but in the end, Heckingbottom will want to place his stamp on the squad at Bramall Lane and may be willing to sacrifice the 24-year-old to get some replacements in.
It’s fair to say his spell in South Yorkshire hasn’t worked out for the best so far, so it will be fascinating to see how many game time he gets in the coming weeks and months. My prediction? He may be moved on in January if they can find a suitable bidder.
By the way his career has fallen apart in the last few years he would be lucky to have a future in the Championship let alone at Sheffield United. Burke’s chances of breaking into the first team picture have definitely gone up since Jokanovic left the club because that was a definite no, with Heckingbottom in charge the answer is probably no but without the sample size to pass a categorical judgment.
Burke’s deal with the Blades runs until the end of next season at which stage it seems likely that no one in English football will be prepared to match the wages he is on at Bramall Lane. A return to Scotland or further abroad would be a likely destination but I do not see him becoming a key figure for either Sheffield United or Middlesbrough in the near future.