Sheffield United must sign this attacker with “scary” potential this summer – Opinion

As Sheffield United gear up for a huge rebuilding job this summer there are many areas within the squad that the Blades must invest in.

I’ve already spoken about the left-back situation and explained why United must sign Harrison Burrows at all costs. But, today I will be focusing on the attack.

Unfortunately, Sheffield United are still in contract talks with Oli McBurnie, while a deal has been on the table for several weeks for 20-year-old striker Daniel Jebbison. And as time goes on, speculation of Jebbison’s departure only increases.

Meanwhile, there is some hope that United’s number nine will pen a new deal at some point this month. But even still, the club’s attacking depth is far from stacked.

As things stand, Chris Wilder will have Rhian Brewster, Will Osula and Louie Marsh as his forward options – with Cameron Archer set to be sold back to Aston Villa. Even with the addition of McBurnie, the attacking depth would be filled with players that have a poor fitness record, and two promising forwards that are still in the developmental stage of their career.

The latter – Osula and Marsh – may well be players with bags of potential, however you really don’t want to be resting your hopes of a promotion on the shoulders of two inexperienced players.

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 21: Oliver McBurnie of Sheffield United prepares to take a penalty during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Manchester United at Bramall Lane on October 21, 2023 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Sheffield United must sign Manchester City forward Liam Delap this summer

We all know that the Blades and Manchester City have a friendly relationship that has formed over the last two years. In the 2022/23 promotion-winning campaign, City loaned Tommy Doyle and James McAtee to United and the young duo had break out campaigns under Paul Heckingbottom.

Pep Guardiola would then sanction another loan move for McAtee to Bramall Lane last summer, but the 21-year-old, as expected, had far less of an impact in the Premier League. Of course, City even helped the Blades in signing Troyes defender Yasser Larouci on loan from City’s sister club in France, although it turned out to be a disastrous move.

Perhaps Man City will be kind enough to help out Sheffield United once more as they tackle an almighty task of bringing in a dozen players this summer.

The one realistic player that stands out to me in the City ranks is promising forward Liam Delap. The 21-year-old already has 68 Championship appearances to his name, scoring 12 goals and providing two assists in the process.

Last season, Delap, son of Stoke City legend Rory Delap, was tipped to have a break out campaign for Hull City. And while he showed his qualities in scoring eight goals in the league, his progress was hindered for a couple of months due to injury. Nevertheless, it was still an impressive season.

His injury may be a blessing in disguise because he still does have some wrinkles in his game that he needs to iron out before gracing the Premier League. As a result, another Championship loan beckons.

HULL, ENGLAND – APRIL 27: Liam Delap of Hull City celebrates scoring his team’s second goal with teammate Jean Michael Seri during the Sky Bet Championship match between Hull City and Ipswich Town at MKM Stadium on April 27, 2024 in Hull, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Liam Delap has “scary” potential

There have been reports suggesting Manchester City would be willing to accept a £10 million bid this summer, which, for his potential is a steal. I can see a Championship club like Sheffield United negotiating a loan deal which includes an obligation to buy providing the team gains promotion to the Premier League.

Previous Hull City manager Liam Rosenior was quoted earlier in the previous season describing Delap as a player with scary potential.

“He’s getting better and better and better in his time with us and he’s going to be a huge threat for us for the rest of the season.

“He can play anywhere on the pitch, he’s that good. He’s naturally a number nine. He’s a number nine with a lot of technical and physical capabilities and speed.

“It’s scary, his potential and ability and hopefully, I get the chance to work with him a lot longer than the next few months,” via Hull Live.

His potential is scary indeed, and you know there is a top class player in their when he was being touted as a potential Sergio Aguero replacement at the tender age of 17.

Liam Delap’s stats and style of play

What I find unique about Liam Delap is that he cuts the figure of a traditional English target man standing at over 6ft, and he looks very powerful. But he is far more than that.

The City academy product can play as a number nine, a number ten, and as a wide forward because of his excellent ball control and dribbling ability.

While Delap doesn’t have the best of finishing statistics, that can be worked on. According to FBref, Delap ranked in the 43rd percentile in non-penalty goals compared to other Championship forwards last season. And his expected goals rank was also low: 21st.

On the flip side, the 21-year-old ranks in the 90th percentile for shot-creating actions, highlighting that he does indeed make a big impact on games, even if he doesn’t score.

Additionally, Delap ranks in the 99th percentile in terms of progressive carries, and 98th percentile in successful take-ons.

To describe Delap’s style of play would be impossible because there aren’t many forwards like him in the English game. As I alluded to earlier: he is very unique.

For a big physical presence he has underrated quickness, not just off the ball but with the ball at his feet as well. He can pin defenders, overpower them, and evade their tackles with great footwork and control. He is capable of carving chances out of nothing for himself and his teammates.

But the one thing that stands out to me is his movement and vision (understanding) of the game, and I hope we get to see this at Bramall Lane this coming season.

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