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Fleck? McGoldrick? Stevens? Wilder on his best free signing at Sheffield United

Chris Wilder has been asked if David McGoldrick is his best free signing as Sheffield United manager.

McGoldrick arrived on a free transfer from Ipswich Town in the summer of 2018. He scored 15 goals that first season as the Blades were promoted from the Championship.

The 33-year-old had to wait until post-lockdown for his first strikes in the Premier League, though, netting twice in a 3-0 win over Chelsea in July.

Yet McGoldrick has found his scoring boots again in 2020/21, despite United’s issues. The forward leads their charts with six goals in all competitions.

But even when McGoldrick was struggling to hit the back of the net, he was still praised for his overall teamwork.

Which is why Wilder was asked about whether the attacker is his best free signing.

“Well, Flecky’s not been a bad one has he? Enda has not been a bad one, has he?” the Blades boss told Yorkshire Live.

“He’s right up there, that’s for sure.

“I have nothing but complete admiration and respect for David. Not just as a player, but as a person, his manner, the way he handles himself around the place regarding if he’s playing or not and what he has produced for the football club.

“I think all Sheffield United fans will recognise that. For him, to go through the period he did last year and not score and the backing he got. From David’s point of view, I think he recognises that.”

Is McGoldrick the best Sheffield United free transfer?

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The former Republic of Ireland international has certainly been very impressive since arriving from Ipswich.

However, as Wilder points out, so have John Fleck and Enda Stevens – who were signed as free agents from Coventry City and Portsmouth respectively.

Fleck joined United in the summer of 2016 shortly after the 53-year-old took charge. The midfielder has risen through the ranks alongside the club, impressing at every level from League One to the top flight.

Fleck did experience a slight dip in form at the beginning of this term, but has seemed back to his best in recent games.

As for Stevens, he moved to Bramall Lane in 2017 following promotion from the third tier. He too has taken each step up in his stride.

The trio are certainly the standouts when it comes to free transfers and picking between them is difficult. And probably unnecessary.

Yet there should also be a nod to Mark Duffy, who also arrived as free agent in 2016 from Birmingham City.

Duffy was also crucial in two promotions in three years, before a contract disagreement led to his exit from the club before their first campaign back in the top tier.

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