Sheffield United transfer targets summer 2023

They are preparing for a busy summer, but who are the Sheffield United transfer targets, as Paul Heckingbottom prepares for the Blades’ return to the Premier League, after two seasons away from the top-tier. 

A second-place finish in the Championship last campaign confirmed the side’s promotion, and with plenty of time to get the squad in order for the first division, there are expected to be movements around Bramall Lane this transfer window. 

Heckingbottom has already secured the signings of midfielder Anis Slimane, Benie Traore and a loan deal with an option to buy for full-back Yasser Larouci, however there remains a number of names on the club’s shopping list. 

Let’s take a look at some of the players rumoured to be targets for the club this summer. 

Sheffield United transfer targets

Kyle Walker

Last month, it was rumoured that Sheffield could prepare a homecoming for Manchester City right-back Kyle Walker. The 33-year-old was nurtured through the ranks at Bramall Lane, before signing for Tottenham in 2009. Since leaving his home club, the defender has won five Premier League titles and the Champions League with City, asserting himself as one of the best full-backs in Europe. 

It would be an emphatic move for Walker to return to his roots this summer, however with Bayern Munich sniffing around the availability of the treble winner, the defender’s destiny is in his hands with a lot of football left to play in his extensive career. 

James McArthur 

As reported in June, the Blades were reportedly eyeing a move for free agent James McArthur following the expiration of his contract with Crystal Palace. The central midfielder could bolster Heckingbottom's side with depth, in a player that has a host of experience in playing in the Premier League.

Having made 323 appearances in the top-tier, the 35-year-old is accustomed to the demands and standard of the league, making him a potentially strong acquisition for Sheffield to target along with his expertise in being deployable in a variation of areas in midfield.

Tommy Doyle

A move that has been eagerly followed by fans is the potential of bringing in recently departed loanee Tommy Doyle. The Manchester City midfielder spent the 2022/23 campaign at Bramall Lane, where he made 33 Championship appearances as an integral cog in Heckingbottom's midfield.

The 21-year-old returned to his parent club in May following the end of the season, however there has been a lot of speculation regarding the Blades' pursuit to bring the youngster back to Sheffield in a permanent deal.

Speaking to City's official website, the Englishman reflected positively on his time at the club, posing a positive stance on the potential of him making the switch once more.

“It was a place I loved being at. It was unbelievable and I was so happy to win promotion. I’m just thankful to Hecky, the manager, and Sheffield United for bringing me in.”

Alfie Gilchrist 

This week, it was reported that Sheffield are eyeing a potential swoop for Chelsea U21 defender Alfie Gilchrist. The youngster is said to have been offered a new deal at Stamford Bridge with the opportunity to venture on a loan deal, however the Blades are speculated to want to obtain the centre-back on a permanent basis.

The 19-year-old is currently with the Blues on their pre-season tour, after impressing in the Premier League 2 for the academy side, where he made 22 appearances for his boyhood club and contributed to eight clean sheets. The academy side finished third in the highly contested youth league, cementing himself as a valued figure in the side's academy.

Ainsley Maitland Niles 

Sheffield United transfer targets
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In other areas of defence, the Blades have been speculated to be one of the sides interested in former Arsenal defender Ainsley Maitland-Niles, as he prepares to take the next step in his career. His boyhood club released the versatile 25-year-old after 19 years employed by north Londoners, and could be a strong addition for Heckingbottom to welcome to his side.

The Englishman could be offered redemption in the Premier League at Bramall Lane, in a chance to reset his career after a disappointing loan spell at Southampton following his fall down the pecking order at Arsenal. With 109 Premier League appearances, Maitland-Niles could bring experience as well as innate versatility to the squad, with the ability to play anywhere along the back line with transferrable skills in midfield.

James McAtee

Attacking midfielder James McAtee is on coach Paul Heckingbottom’s radar. However, a transfer seems unlikely as McAtee seems determined to force himself into coach Pep Guardiola’s match strategy sooner rather than later.

The 20-year-old talent has a bright future ahead of him and it’s no wonder why Premier League clubs are in line to sign him. The Blades are eager to get him before the transfer deadline but it seems that regardless of their offer, McAtee will stay at Etihad Stadium.

The Citizens’ starlet spent the 2022/23 season fighting for Sheffield United in the Championship. He was a vital part of the Blades’ promotion as he made a total of 37 appearances, scoring on nine occasions and assisting thrice.

James McAtee already made his 2023/24 debut for the Citizens. It seems that the Blades would really have to pull off one hell of an offer to tempt him to join Bramall Lane on a permanent deal. Currently, James McAtee’s market value is set at €12m, which shouldn’t be too much of an issue for Sheffield United. However, the board will have to finance an amazing contract for McAtee to tempt him to snub his initial idea of making a name for himself at Etihad Stadium.

Will Smallbone

Will Smallbone Transfer

The Blades got their £7m bid for Will Smallbone denied earlier this month. The 23-year-old midfielder himself said he prefers to stay at St Mary’s Stadium. Defending his boyhood team is what’s on his mind these days, so if Sheffield United want to sign him, they’ll have to considerably sweeten the deal for both the club and the player himself. Saint sold too many important figures this season. They can’t allow Will Smallbone to leave without considerable pay. And Southampton believe £7m for a player of Smallbone’s caliber is simply not good enough.

Facundo Pelistri

Facundo Pellistri Transfer
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21-year-old winger Facundo Pelistri is getting closer and closer to boosting coach Heckingbottom’s side this season. According to rumors, club-to-club negotiations are going smoothly so far, despite some differences regarding the transfer sum. Currently, Facundo Pelistri’s market value is at just €6m but the Red Devils want twice as much for their transfer flop.

Facundo failed to impress managers ever since he swapped Penarol for Manchester United on a massive £9m deal. The team from Manchester wants to cover its losses, with a €12m transfer but it is still unknown if the Blades are ready to pay such a hefty sum for a player who has yet to prove his worth in the Premier League.

During his two-year stay at Old Trafford, Facundo barely made 11 official appearances. He couldn’t score a goal but he did make an assist in an EFL Cup game last season. Sure, the Uruguayan winger is getting some minutes this season, but will he continue to record minutes once all of Manchester United’s star attacking players are fit? We highly doubt it. That’s why Facundo Pelistri’s move to Bramall Lane is highly possible. He needs minutes to prove he can be a valuable Premier League asset, and it seems that Dutch manager Erik ten Hag isn’t prepared to give him the chance he needs.