Iliman Ndiaye is certainly the talk of the town at the moment, with the Sheffield United ace excelling for Senegal in the World Cup.
Ndiaye got his first start against Ecuador and rewarded Aliou Cisse with a fine performance. All eyes now are on the clash with England, and whether Ndiaye will once again get the chance to show his class against the Three Lions.
Of course, back in Sheffield, United and the coaching staff couldn’t be prouder of Ndiaye. Paul Heckingbottom was the man to give him his debut for the Blades. Since then, he’s gone from strength to strength under a manager who clearly knows the player inside out.
However, Heckingbottom has revealed things might have been different.
Speaking in an interview for iNews, the United gaffer has revealed that Ndiaye was on his way out at one point, with a move to Barnsley lined up.
“He was almost on his way out at one point,” Heckingbottom reveals. “Although Iliman had big talent, he was seen as a No 10 and we didn’t really play with a No 10 in the first team,” Hecky said.
“If he didn’t a have pathway here, I had already had a word with Barnsley, obviously one of my old clubs. There was an opportunity for him to go there but luckily for us we all had the discussion that he needed to stay. The reason I fought for Iliman is because he’s got unreal ability with the ball plus the work ethic and tactical awareness to go with it. There is no one in our league who can look after the ball like Iliman.”
Sheff U News View: What a difference time can make
Well, how different things might have been. The idea of Ndiaye playing for Barnsley just doesn’t even compute. Of course, it was nice of Heckingbottom to sort something out for Ndiaye, had he left. But given what we see now, it’s baffling to suggest it was even considered.
Luckily, time and circumstance has seen Ndiaye become the player we all know and love right now.
January is the big test for United. Ndiaye will have interest. And if he can play well against England, then that’s only going to add to his worth.
A Blades fan base holds its breath, then, ahead of what’s going to be a stressful January window.