A number of Premier League clubs, including Hull City, are poised to enter the race for Harry Maguire, The Star understands
Sources at Wolverhampton Wanderers, who have identified the Sheffield United defender as one of their leading transfer targets, last night acknowledged this latest twist in a long-running saga threatens to undermine manager Kenny Jackett’s attempts to sign a player capped once by England at under-21 level.
Should City decide to firm-up their interest by tabling an official offer with Bramall Lane’s board of directors, then it could also complicate Nigel Clough’s efforts to persuade Maguire his future is best served by remaining in South Yorkshire for at least another season.
United want the centre-half, whose contract expires next summer, to agree an extended deal after he emerged as a driving force behind their march into the FA Cup semi-finals two months ago.
However Maguire, a member of the team beaten by City at Wembley, has reportedly indicated he does not want to continue those negotiations until his long-term future is resolved.
“Their side (Maguire’s) have said they want to wait and see what happens,” Clough confirmed last week. “But, as I say, we’re not in a position where we’ll be forced into anything.”
Maguire, United’s reigning Player of the Year, has already been the subject of two failed bids, worth £1m and £1.5m, from Wolves who had hoped the lure of Championship football would convince the 21-year-old to join his former colleague Kevin McDonald at Molineux.
But Jackett is now said to be concerned the opportunity to join a top-flight side could persuade Maguire to reconsider his options if an approach from City or another admirer materialise.
United’s bargaining position has been strengthened by the knowledge they would be entitled to compensation should he depart as a ‘free agent.’
Meanwhile, United are pressing ahead with their attempt to recruit Tranmere Rovers midfielder James Wallace.
Wallace was confirmed earlier this week as a target of United boss Nigel Clough, who was impressed with the former Everton youngster’s performances for Tranmere last season.
Although the Prenton Park outfit were eventually relegated to League Two, Wallace caught the eye on a number of occasions and United are thought to face competition from a number of clubs for his signature.
But Clough is understood to be in the box seat to secure the services of the 22-year-old, who made his competitive debut for Everton against Sigma Olomouc in the Europa League in 2009.
Tranmere chief Rob Edwards is also unsure whether Wallace’s midfield partner, Steve Jennings, will stay at the club next season.
“I’m going to try and sort that out this week,” Edwards said.
“I want that to be sorted sooner rather than later but I don’t know the actual deadline on it. But we all win games so I’m sure they all want to further their careers and win plenty of games.”
Wallace has represented both England and Republic of Ireland at junior level.
Because he is under the age of 24, Rovers would be entitled to compensation were he to move to Bramall Lane.
“We’ve got to sort things out with Tranmere first,” Clough said earlier this week.
“But we’re making progress in that regard and, from what I understand, we’re not far away from making progress.
“But there are a lot of clubs keen on James, because he’s very capable.”