Alan Biggs at Large: "I think United are right to hold firm on Aaron Ramsale"

It’s a puzzle within a puzzle. But it’s about adding the right pieces - and quashing the thought that the key to scoring goals might be the future of the player who takes most responsibility for stopping them.

Wednesday, 18th August 2021, 12:10 pm

Sheffield United have seemed to struggle to move on with their plans under a new manager with a giant question mark hanging over goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

That needs removing, even if, as seems increasingly likely, he joins Arsenal - and that might not be the worst thing.

You can’t categorically say the uncertainty over Ramsdale has held up signings because United have been committed for some time to landing Ronaldo Vieira and Ben Davies, who has finally arrived from Liverpool.

Slavisa Jokanovic’s clear wish for a number of new faces has made you wonder about a dependence on incoming cash.

That is starting to be allayed, although there is no shame in this with football generally ever more in need of responsible ownership. And it has been widely accepted for some time that, following relegation, the Blades needed at least one major outgoing.

If it is not to be Sander Berge, in whom interest at the required level seems to have cooled, then Ramsdale has to be the focus amid much political posturing over Arsenal’s long-standing interest.

The Blades board have been left unshielded as the decision-makers with Jokanovic making it clear the keeper won’t be sold on his account and Ramsdale refusing to agitate for a move he would surely find impossible to turn down.

Aaron Ramsdale: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

That is admirable and welcome. Ironically, it would have made things easier - certainly in a PR sense - for United’s hierarchy if Ramsdale had banged on the door.

As it is, they stand to lose face if they sell much below £35m, bearing in mind Bournemouth have a sell-on entitlement.

I think United are right to hold firm but there is a point at which it is sensible to trade, considering keepers can be more replaceable more cheaply than outfield players.

If a Ramsdale sale freed up cash on a wider front then I think it would be worth considering - with young Manchester United winger Amad Diallo in the pipeline for a club bereft of wide midfielders.

I know there is this thing about either “making a statement” by keeping Ramsdale or being branded a “selling club” by doing business. But the reality is that all clubs have to sell sometimes, especially those outside the elite.

What’s come through most strongly to me having observed the first two scoreless league games (this written ahead of midweek at West Brom) is that the team is looking a touch stale and finding it difficult to switch away from 3-4-1-2.

The tactics and approach may be different but the players - undoubtedly many damn good ones at this level and some proven higher - need stimulation.

Jokanovic knows this better than anyone. So, outside the politics of him standing against a Ramsdale sale, it might not be the worst thing for him if that were to happen.

Providing United reinvest a good chunk of the cash - and providing there is enough time to do it!