Ismaila Coulibaly is in no rush to end his loan at K Beerschot VA early and return to Sheffield United.
Coulibaly joined the Belgian side on loan for three years this summer, shortly after the Blades signed him in a £1.8m deal from Sarpsborg 08.
United owner Prince Abdullah also co-owns Beerschot and there are links between the two clubs as a result. Both are part of the United World group.
Non-European Union players need to meet certain criteria before being granted one. This can be given if a player features in a large proportion of their country’s most recent international matches.
Coulibaly is a Under-20 international for Mali, but has never played at senior level.
Belgium is known to one of the most flexible EU countries for granting citizenship. It is usually achieved after three years working in the country – hence the length of the loan deal.
Coulibaly doesn’t want to leave Beerschot
The 20-year-old has been impressing this season and if possible, there is talk the Blades might cut his loan short.
Coulibaly has scored five goals in 13 appearances in the Belgian top flight in 2020/21.
This had led to interest from AC Milan, with Het Laaste Nieuws reporting the Italian giants had an offer for the youngster rejected by United.
Coulibaly plays in central midfield – an area which manager Chris Wilder is looking to recruit in.
But even if it was an option, the Mali Under-20 international isn’t ready to come back to Bramall Lane just yet.
“If I go to the Premier League next year, it will first and foremost be a great compliment for Hernán Losada (Beerschot manager) and my teammates, because it’s thanks to them that I’m progressing this quickly,” Coulibaly told Sport/Foot magazine, as quoted by Sport Witness. “The manager often takes me to one side to talk details.
“Here, you give a chance to youngsters and you’re corrected so you can get better.
“I signed a three year contract, so the aim is to go to the end of it.”