With the new Championship season now just weeks away, Sheffield United and Slavisa Jokanovic will hope to get motoring in the transfer market.
The Blades squad already has plenty of talent and depth. That’s why the strategy this summer is said to be one of quality over quantity. Indeed, the likes of Tom Cairney have immediately been mentioned.
However, Cairney’s contract, in addition to the fact Fulham could ask for around £10m, make that a hard deal to do. Of course, it could be one we sneak over the line, should circumstances chance.
But a more realistic target for United and Jokanovic could come in the form of Aston Villa and Ireland midfielder, Conor Hourihane.
The 30-year-old promotion winner is said to be looking for first-team football, after entering the final 12 months of his contract. That is something Villa cannot promise him, and is why he ended up on loan with Swansea last season.
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Experience and winning mentality
For United to do well this season, they need players to come in who are going to make an immediate impact. Whether that be on the field – which we’d all prefer – or even in the dressing room.
With Hourihane, you’d be killing two birds with one stone. The Irishman has enjoyed promotions with Villa and Barnsley, while at 30, he brings the experience with him as well.
Add that with 26 Ireland caps, and pushing for 400 career appearances at club level, and it gives you the full impression on Hourihane.
Anyone who follows United will agree we need midfield players. John Lundstram has gone, while Sander Berge could also go.
Yes, both those players play on the right of three and Hourihane is a left-footer, but he’d still slot in and is versatile enough to play different formations and roles.
Last season, United struggled immensely in the middle. Not one of them scored a goal – barring Berge’s penalty at Liverpool – and that has to change.
Hourihane has that bit about him to create from nothing, as well as taking a mean set-piece. Of his 82 league goals, Hourihane has scored 13 direct from free-kicks.
Impressively, while with Barnsley, he scored 31 and set up another 48 in just 134 appearances (Transfermark). Indeed, he added five for Swansea in just half a season, two of which were free-kicks.
In terms of loan signings for United, then, they don’t much more well-suited than Conor Hourihane.