With Iliman Ndiaye entering the final year of his contract, Sheffield United were eventually forced to sell their star player when his boyhood club came calling. The fact that the club let him enter the final year of his deal, in the first place, has been put into question since the sale of the Senegalese forward.
Much like Ndiaye, there are several other valuable players that are entering their final year of their current deal. But Prince Abdullah is aware of that, as he told SheffUnitedWay:
“First of all, I don’t want to mention specific names. But usually when there’s two years left on the contract we always talk about the players. We don’t miss it, we don’t forget about it.
“Sometimes we think, okay which league we’re in – some players are good for the Championship, some of them are good for the Premier League. So that has to go into the thinking. Also, what’s the age of the player. Should we renew now, or shall we see how he performs in the next one or two years.”
“It’s never because we forgot, or don’t care. It always has a good reason. Sometimes the player refuses. Like with Iliman, we offered him a contract last year, before the season started. We tried many times. Even with Berge. They preferred not to sign, they said maybe we will not be promoted – they gave me different reasons. You don’t let your good players go into the last year of the contract, but sometimes the players do not accept [an extension].”
There was constant speculation surrounding the future of Ndiaye, even back in January. And the owner prioritised keeping the player in order to secure promotion to the Premier League.
Prince Abdullah remarked:
“We got some offers. I can’t disclose any names of the clubs. Iliman did not want to go in January, he did not force us to move him. And we knew that if we sold him in January, we would probably not get promoted.”
Sheffield United’s owner stated:
“I have the utmost respect for Iliman and he has a special place in my heart. Of course, I wish that he stayed. I tried my best.
“I feel a special attachment because of how he signed his three year contract. Any successful club has to have rules, has to have strategy. But also as an owner you have to know when to break those rules, or to say forget about what we agreed, we have to make an exception this time.
“When Iliman negotiated to sign the three year contract, it was very difficult because we signed like four or five academy players before him and he was number five or six, and he asked for much more money than the four players against him.
“The club told me that if we signed him for what he asked for, it would ruin the system we had or whatever. I told them I don’t care about the system, just sign him.”
Prince Abdullah reassures supporters that the club did everything possible to try and keep Iliman Ndiaye at the club for the foreseeable future.