Does Ismaila Coulibaly have a future at Sheffield United?

It’s fair to say that Ismaila Coulibaly’s Sheffield United career has never got going, and the midfielder has officially spent four years under contract for the Blades. From what was seen as a smart buy back in September 2020 has really turned out to be a complete waste.

The 23-year-old arrived at Bramall Lane from Norwegian side Sarpsborg, for approximately £2 million, where he impressed as a teenager scoring four goals and serving up an assist in 14 Eliteserien appearances. 

Upon completing the transfer the promising midfielder would instantly be shipped out on loan to United’s sister club Beerschot. The Malian midfielder would continue his form in the Belgian top flight bagging five goals in 17 starts in the 2020/21 campaign. 

His strong form over that two year period did more than enough to pique the interest of several European teams such as AC Milan and Galatasaray. The Italian giants reportedly had a £10 million bid rejected, while the Turkish club had an offer of £12.9 million knocked back by the Blades, according to Sky Sports.

He carried his momentum into the following season with Beerschot providing three assists in 20 appearances before he suffered an unfortunate injury which saw him miss a couple of months.

Following the completion of his two-year loan spell in Belgium, Coulibaly would return to Sheffield United with an objective to help the Blades gain promotion to the Premier League in their 2022/23 campaign. 

Things seemed to have been going quite well in pre-season, albeit against lesser opposition, but he looked the part. Subsequently, the midfielder would undergo surgery to remove some loose cartilage in his knee. This would put Coulibaly out for several months, and any hopes of him playing his way into Paul Heckingbottom’s matchday squad had vanished. 

The Malian international would begin to play in cup games in January 2023 to build up his fitness, but as far as Championship minutes goes, he registered just one minute of action all season as a result of his major knee surgery. 

And then earlier this year he would get sent on loan to Swedish club AIK in a bid to recapture the form he showed just a couple of years ago. As of writing, Coulibaly has featured 10 times in the Allsvenskan, scoring twice and adding an assist.

Does Ismaila Coulibaly have a future at Sheffield United?

Sheff United Way’s co-host, Oli, has recently expressed his thoughts on Coulibaly and his future at the club.

“Our midfield looks to be the most settled part of the team. We’ve got Andre Brooks, Oli Arblaster, Gustavo Hamer. They’re an excellent long-term trio who could really lock down that midfield position for a number of seasons if we can keep them at the club.

“There’s not really a role for Coulibaly to come in and be anything other than a sub at best. It would also appear that [Anis Slimane] will be ahead of Coulibaly in the pecking order. 

“Whether he goes to AIK, whether he goes to another club, it is increasingly unlikely that we will see him in a Sheffield United shirt again. And I do think that’s the right thing to do for both the player and the club. Despite all that early promise it’s just not happened for him. So, a fresh start somewhere else might be the right thing to do.”

My view

It’s such a shame that knee injuries halted Ismaila Coulibaly’s Sheffield United career. He showed real potential over in Belgium, and his playing style, even now, is needed in Sheffield United’s midfield. The Blades lack an athletic midfielder with box-to-box qualities. 

Having said that, I think this summer is the right time to part ways with the 23-year-old.

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