We are only days into the January window and already the rumour mill is swirling among a number of top Championship players.

For Sheffield United and Paul Heckingbottom, the focus in January remains keeping the squad together. Bids or at least interest is expected in the likes of Iliman Ndiaye, Sander Berge, and John Egan. That trio are key to United’s promotion hopes, and Heckingbottom will be hoping the board resist any offers.

However, while the Blades’ focus is on keeping those players, it’s easy to forget that the pressure is on other Championship clubs to do the same. And when it comes to those in the promotion picture, Middlesbrough are facing their own fight to keep hold of star striker, Chuba Akpom.

Middlesbrough v Sheffield United - Sky Bet Championship
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Reports from Sky Sports today claim Everton and Crystal Palace could be set to bid for Akpom. Further, there is also interest from Germany.

So, while the focus for United is keeping their own striker in Iliman Ndiaye, the Blades could see their rivals lose a key player here as well.

Chuba Akpom might jump at Premier League return

There are a couple of things to consider with this potential deal and how it might impact Sheffield United.

First off, Middlesbrough look – at the moment – like one of the teams most capable of mounting any sort of hunt down of the Blades in second. Since Michael Carrick took over, their form has sky-rocketed, with Akpom key in that run. Should they lose their striker, then Carrick would have a mammoth task in replacing him.

In terms of how likely a deal might be, you’d have suggest it’s one of the more possible transfers in January.

Everton are desperate, for a start. They need a striker. And in Akpom, they’d be getting someone in fine form and hungry for goals.

Middlesbrough v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship
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Specifically, when it comes to Akpom, you’d have to assume he’d fancy the move up to the PL. Now 27 and entering what should be his prime years, Akpom will be keen to prove he can do it at the top level. After all, he didn’t quite make the grade at Arsenal before a series of moves saw him wind up on Teesside for £2.75m in 2020.

Sheffield United can benefit from Akpom move

While the talk here is of Chuba Akpom and a move to Everton or Palace, you might question how this impacts Sheffield United at all.

But in a nutshell, any team in the top six in the Championship losing their best players impacts the Blades. It means a promotion rival losing a key man and, crucially, goals. It means Boro needing to scour the market for a replacement, albeit Cameron Archer is said to be signing from Villa.

Further, it means another PL club has signed a striker who isn’t Iliman Ndiaye. That in itself is vital.

If this one ends up getting done, then Middlesbrough will struggle to push for the top two. And in a roundabout way, they’ll be giving the Blades and Paul Heckingbottom a huge boost in that quest for promotion.

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