A big summer awaits a number of Sheffield United players but Luke Freeman is among those who Blades fans will be keeping tabs on.
The former QPR midfielder was one of Chris Wilder’s first signings when United won promotion to the Premier League. He arrived with a good reputation in the Championship. Known for being a creative player who could play the number ten role, most Blades fans would admit they were happy when Freeman arrived.
However, the slight tinker in formation which saw John Lundstram thrive held Freeman back a bit. Rather than be a number ten, Freeman was often used as back-up for John Fleck.
In fairness to him, he did ok at times. The home win over Palace in the early days of that season showed how good Freeman could be. But when Fleck returned, the 29-year-old gradually drifted out of favour.
Freeman has spent this last season on loan with Nottingham Forest. But the Reds have decided not to sign him. A frustrating injury cost him game time mid-season. He then struggled for starts later on, being named in the starting XI in just two of the final ten fixtures.
It’s safe to say, then, that Freeman has a big summer ahead. But with Slavisa Jokanovic now in charge and a slight tinker in system likely, could Freeman actually fancy his chances at The Lane?
Jokanovic to give Luke Freeman his Sheffield United chance?
The new Blades boss will be looking to put his stamp on proceedings at The Lane. Whether that be playing his trusty 4-3-3, or going with the 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 he used with Watford at times.
One thing is for sure, though, and that is Jokanovic will be looking extensively at the current squad. He’ll want to give those maybe on the fringes a chance to prove themselves. But he’ll also be taking no prisoners and won’t be frigthened to move on those deemed not good enough.
For Freeman, he faces a big summer. It’s a summer that will go one of two ways. Should he get his head down and Jokanovic opt for playing a number ten, then the door is wide open for the ex-Arsenal trainee.
Freeman should be looking at this as a fresh start. If he’s over those injuries from his time with Forest, then there’s every chance United see the player who was involved in 17 goals the year before signing for the Blades.
On the flipside to that scenario, Freeman could simply sink. If he doesn’t apply himself, or doesn’t impress Jokanovic, then he’ll likely be one of the players who are shifted on.
Now or never
This summer will see Freeman enter the final 12 months of his deal. So if United are unsure on him, then selling now is the best option for the club.
But, there is a chance here for Freeman. Chris Wilder was delighted when he landed him in that summer of 2019. There was a reason he was bought.
Now, then, is the time for the 29-year-old to really show what made Wilder and United snap him up in the first place.