Report: Sheffield United set to sign 24-year-old midfielder – What can he bring to the Blades?

Former Leeds United midfielder Jamie Shackleton has agreed to sign with Sheffield United following the expiration of his contract at Elland Road, according to Football Insider. The 24-year-old featured just 15 times for the Whites in all competitions last season registering an assist to his name.

It looked as though Shackleton was going to kick on in the 2023/24 season after having a successful loan campaign at Millwall in the previous term. Instead, he would spend the majority of the season either as an unused sub for Daniel Farke or he wouldn’t be named in the matchday squad at all.

Interestingly, Leeds have offered a new deal to the versatile midfielder according to the Yorkshire Evening Post but of course he declined to stay in West Yorkshire and has opted to move to South Yorkshire instead, per reports.

PETERBOROUGH, ENGLAND – JANUARY 07: Ephron Mason-Clark of Peterborough United (R) and Jamie Shackleton of Leeds United battle for the ball during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Peterborough United and Leeds United at Weston Homes Stadium on January 07, 2024 in Peterborough, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

What could Jamie Shackleton bring to Sheffield United?

Shackleton has a lot of similarities to Ben Osborn, who’s future with the Blades is in doubt due to negotiations stalling. Shackleton, like Osborn, is one of the smallest players on the field nine times out of ten. However, like Osborn, he has an incredible work rate and his energy is a standout attribute.

Much like Osborn, Shackleton is a central midfielder that can cover on the wings as well as at full-back. We are looking at right-footed version of Ben Osborn pretty much. And I’m not complaining. We need squad players and he certainly fits that bill.

Last season alone he covered left-back, right-back, right-midfield and central midfield in less than 700 minutes of football for Leeds United.

FBref have him listed down as a full-back so his percentile rankings are in comparison to Championship full-backs and wing-backs. But, when you look at how he performed in some of the key metrics for midfielders you can see why Chris Wilder sees Shackleton as a valuable squad player.

His passing completion per 90, 87%, is enough to see him rank in the 98th percentile for Championship full-backs while his progressive passes (just over four per 90) sees him rank slightly above average.

It is clear to see that he prefers to carry the ball forward than pass forward; he ranks in the 96th percentile for progressive carries, and 82nd percentile in progressive distance. So not only does he carry it forward a lot he carries it a long distance per attempt, this could be very handy to beat a counter press for example and drive at an exposed defence.

To add, he ranks in the 95th percentile for carries into the final third and 98th percentile for carries into the penalty area.

Another thing which has stood out to me is his tackling in the final third. He ranks in the 98th percentile for tackles in the final third. Add this to his high energy nature, Shackleton could be a decent weapon to have for when Sheffield United want to press up the pitch next season.

In other news, the Blades are on the verge of completing a deal for former Norwich City left-back Sam McCallum.

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