Sheffield United: Blades face competition for signing of Southend’s Ryan Leonard

Chesterfield's Liam Graham lifts the ball beyond Southend's Ryan Leonard
Chesterfield's Liam Graham lifts the ball beyond Southend's Ryan Leonard

Sheffield United face competition from fellow promoted clubs Bolton and Millwall for the signature of Southend’s star man Ryan Leonard.

As The Star revealed last week, United had an initial bid for Southend’s player of the year rejected and an improved offer was also turned down, with Shrimpers chairman Ron Martin and manager Phil Brown determined to hold on to the 25-year-old midfielder.

Southend have extended Leonard’s contract by a further year, and Brown has warned he will not be sold on the cheap as his side look to build on last season’s seventh-placed finish.

“Things are bubbling along where Lenny is concerned but we’ve put a not for sale sign on his head at the moment and will do all we can to keep him,” Brown said.

“The chairman has met with Lenny for talks but we’ve had two more clubs come in for him from the Championship.

“There’s a lot of interest but we’ve knocked back all the bids so far.”

Blades boss Chris Wilder, too, has warned that he won’t hesitate to move on if a fee for Leonard, pictured above, can’t be agreed.

“We’ve done it the right way - we’ve gone through the front door, I spoke to Phil and put a bid in, he’s recognised that and we’ll see where it goes,” Wilder said.

“If we come to a number we agree on and that we think is value, then we’ll get something done.

“But if it goes above that, then we’ll move on.”

Wilder, who has already signed Ched Evans, Nathan Thomas and Enda Stevens since promotion to the Championship was confirmed, is also interested in bringing Celtic winger Gary Mackay-Steven to Bramall Lane on loan.

The Scot was a largely peripheral figure as Celtic sealed the treble last season, and sources in Scotland suggest that United and Blackburn Rovers have made contact with the 26-year-old’s representatives.

United, then managed by Nigel Clough, were interested in Mackay-Steven in 2015, when he was at Dundee United.