Sheffield United could pursue midfielder after door left wide open

Sheffield United have previously been linked with box-to-box midfielder Lewis O’Brien and after being refused the opportunity to sign him by Nottingham Forest last summer, the door now seems wide open for the Blades to secure the 25-year-old’s signature.

According to The Northern Echo Middlesbrough have pulled out of the race to sign O’Brien permanently after a relatively decent loan spell at Boro. Now, Sheffield United and Preston North End could be in the drivers seat for the Nottingham Forest man.

It is known that Forest don’t see O’Brien as part of their squad and now that the Blades are no longer direct rivals to the Reds, the opportunity to negotiate for the player is much more likely.

O’Brien featured 23 times for Michael Carrick’s Middlesbrough, he did face a long spell on the sidelines from the end of September to the beginning of January. And despite his setbacks, he provided some strong showings in midfield to help Boro to an 8th place finish.

Sheffield United to pursue Lewis O’Brien?

Chris Wilder will certainly be in the market for midfielders this summer as the Blades attempt to  reshape their team. We know that Oliver Norwood will no longer be a Sheffield United player beyond this season so it is important to acquire one or two players that have experienced the tough midfield battle on a Championship matchday.

Wilder, and supporters, have made it completely clear that they want the team to be built around Oliver Arblaster and Gustavo Hamer. In Hamer, the Blades have a top class Championship midfielder that can get goals and assists in abundance at this level, and he’s even shown he can do it at Premier League level.

While Arblaster’s breakthrough into the first team actually correlates with the improved goal and assists numbers from Hamer. The pair clearly have the right chemistry. But, now it’s about adding one more piece to the puzzle. Arblaster has shown he can screen the defence and do his defensive work diligently – but do you really want Arblaster to do that?

This is a conundrum that Wilder and his new recruitment team will have to figure out. How do you want the midfield to function next season? Do you want a six and two eights? Do you want two sixes and a 10? It is going to be very interesting to see how the summer transfer window unfolds for the Blades.

My take

I get that some fans want Tom Davies in the midfield next season but I would definitely not be relying on him to be a main starter given his injury record.

Lewis O’Brien would provide Sheffield United with a lot more energy in midfield than the likes of Vinicius Souza has this season for instance.

He has genuine box-to-box abilities, and although far from the most physically imposing midfielders he does put himself about. Plus, he gives the team that balance of having a left-footed player in midfielder.

Another player I suspect the Blades will look at is another left-footed player in Alex Mowatt, who is currently in a play-off campaign with West Brom. As far as I’m aware Mowatt is out of contract this summer with no option in his contract. This one is particularly interesting because United’s new head of recruitment helped to bring the 29-year-old to Middlesbrough under Chris Wilder.

Tags Alex Mowatt Gustavo Hamer Lewis O'Brien Oli Arblaster

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