Sheffield United added another quality young player to the ranks today as they completed the signing of James McAtee from Manchester City.
The England youngster completed a season-long loan move to the Blades today and he could be thrust straight into the squad to face Millwall, should Paul Heckingbottom see fit to do so. Capable of playing across all the attacking midfield positions, McAtee has been signed – along with Red Khadra – to replace the creative output lost by Morgan Gibbs-White’s return to Wolves.
Of course, United play a trio up top at the moment and started the opening day of the season with Sander Berge, Iliman Ndiaye, and Daniel Jebbison. However, McAtee’s signing has got some suggesting that it would mean that Berge might be on his way out, with interest in the Norwegian said to be there.
However, Paul Heckingbottom has said in his presser today that it could simply mean Berge adopts a new role in the XI, rather than the big midfielder moving on altogether.
Heckingbottom Hints At New Role For Sander Berge
Berge’s emergence as an attacking force last season was one of the highlights of Heckingbottom’s tenure. We’ve seen interest in the Norwegian before, and it’s believed he is on the radar of clubs this summer too.
However, speaking to the Sheffield Star today, Heckingbottom insisted that talk of Berge moving on was a completely separate matter from McAtee’s arrival.
“Not at all. They’re different players,” Heckingbottom said.
“We expect more from Sander than just being one of the boys up the pitch. We moved Sander up the pitch last season because of where we found ourselves with players. We had to try and produce chances and performances in a different way and we want James to add more options. Whichever players are on the pitch, we still have players on the bench and it’s constant quality,” the Blades boss added.
Our View: Sheffield United Have Options Galore
It will certainly be interesting to see how Heckingbottom fits everyone in once they’re all fit.
McAtee and Khadra’s arrivals certainly give United completely different options than they had just a few weeks ago, and the need to move Sander back into a deeper midfield role might now entice Heckingbottom.
On the flipside of that, though, is who comes out from midfield? Oli Norwood is the engine, while John Fleck – although below par for some time now – remains a favourite of Heckingbottom. It seems, then, that some Blades players are going to find themselves a tad unhappy at times this season.
Of course, that can be a good thing, and United now do seem to have a squad that’s more than capable of challenging for the top two.