Anis Slimane was given 70 minutes for Sheffield United’s development team on Tuesday afternoon at Bramall Lane, as he continues to step up his intensity levels following his injury.
After showing signs of promise during the pre-season matches, the Tunisian international suffered a hamstring problem in the build up to the first game of the season, and he’s not featured for the first-team since.
He has featured a few times for the development team and his most recent appearance was against Cardiff City in United’s 6-2 win, where the midfielder completely dominated the Bluebirds. He firstly drawed a foul which then led to his superbly dispatched free-kick. And, he was unlucky to not get a couple of assists.
Describing his performance in the game as effortless is a testament to his skill, not his mindset. He consistently offered himself for a pass when the Blades were in possession, he didn’t shy away from challenges and didn’t show the disinterest that is occasionally seen when first-team players drop down to academy level for some playing time.
There are positive signs with Slimane as he looks to get back in contention in the matchday squad, and his addition on the bench would provide the Blades with midfield flexibility. The 22-year-old can play several roles in midfield and within various systems, as shown in his 2022 World Cup appearances, and his games for Brøndby.
His unorthodox style, reminiscent of Iliman Ndiaye with an untucked shirt and rolled-down socks, will certainly benefit first-team manager Paul Heckingbottom. With a challenging match against Spurs looming, more significant opportunities should be on the horizon for him and other promising young players at United.