Sam McCallum signs four-year deal with Sheffield United

Sheffield United have finally announced the signing of former Norwich City defender Sam McCallum having signed a four-year deal with the club. The 23-year-old is the Blades’ second acquisition of the summer.

McCallum is a versatile defender capable of playing as a left-back in a traditional back four or as a left-wingback in a five-man defence. He has plenty of hunger to get forward down the left flank and it is a prominent feature of his game, showcasing a strong attacking work rate that often places him in promising positions. This type of athleticism to bomb down the wing is central to McCallum’s style, as he consistently seeks to support the attack and create opportunities from the left side.

Chris Wilder on Sam McCallum as the defender speaks for the first time as a Sheffield United player

The United boss, Chris Wilder, had this to say about his new player: “Sam fits the profile and we are looking forward to welcoming him into the group. He will bring energy to an area of the field where it is essential to be fit and athletic. Sam loves to go forward and his Championship experience will be vital as we look to win games and be very competitive in a notoriously tough division,” per the club’s website.

Speaking for the first time as a Sheffield United player, McCallum said, “It is a big club and I enjoy the style of football. I’ve always liked the football which the manager has implemented into the club and hopefully I’ll fit hand-in-hand with that. The football United play is the football I want to be playing for the next couple of years.”

What McCallum will bring to the Blades: Analysis

McCallum’s ranking in the bottom 10% for actual assists starkly contrasts with his expected assists (xA) figure, where he stands in the 76th percentile. This discrepancy indicates that while McCallum is creating opportunities, his teammates at Norwich City were not converting them into goals.

He ranks in the 50th percentile for tackles, which isn’t necessarily a negative (it could mean he isn’t caught out of position much), but his true strength lies in his ability to intercept and clear the ball. Ranking in the 99th percentile for interceptions and 97th for clearances, McCallum excels at disrupting opposition play and relieving pressure on his defence. Furthermore, his aerial prowess is remarkable, with a 99th percentile ranking for aerial duels won compared to other Championship full-backs. This skill set addresses a significant weakness in Sheffield United’s defenders last season, who struggled in aerial battles, averaging only a 46% aerial win rate per game.

United fans can expect an injection of pace and energy into the side along with a real attacking outlet from the left side, something they haven’t really had since the days of Enda Stevens. He will provide the attack with an overlapping option but from there it is all about his delivery when he gets to the byline.

If McCallum is indeed going to be the backup for the United-linked Harrison Burrows then that would be very good depth at Championship level. And what makes me think he will be the backup is simply because I don’t think you can put full trust in his availability. Last season he only missed out on the squad for four games, but the previous two Championship campaigns he’s missed out on 45 games combined.

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