Ben Davies has slowly played himself into the Sheffield United team in recent month and the Liverpool loanee has been integral in the Blades keeping three consecutive clean-sheets.
However, reports this week have claimed that Davies is wanted by West Ham during January. The Sun claims the United defender is on a list of targets drawn up by David Moyes. The Hammers need cover in defence, with Angelo Ogbonna set to miss a period of the season.
Davies, 26, has excelled further at Bramall Lane since being moved into a back three. After all, that is what most Blades fans thought he was being brought in for anyway when Slavisa Jokanovic was manager.
Going into January, then, it is imperative that Paul Heckingbottom does all he can to ensure Davies remains a Sheffield United player.
We’ve seen glimpses of Ben Davies being the ball-playing centre-half those at Preston became accustomed to seeing. That was the lowdown we were given from our Preston North End expert when we signed him from Liverpool in the summer.
Indeed, the pass into the feet of David McGoldrick to instigate the equaliser against Stoke was a sign of Davies’ ability on the ball. In a back three, we are likely to see more of this.
But in recent times, Davies has shown signs of the defensive ability needed at Championship level. Against Bristol City, he made three tackles, an interception, and blocked a shot (per Whoscored). Couple that with an impressive 91% passing accuracy – the highest in the Blades XI – and it’s plain to see Davies is key for United.
Interestingly, of the six long balls he attempted, five were successful. This is crucial for United in terms of switching the play quickly.
Like every loan deal, January gives all the parties involved time to review and analyse. United currently have four loans on the books. Morgan Gibbs-White is the standout, but Ben Davies is the next most important of the four.
Of course, if he fancies testing himself in the Premier League, then West Ham might appeal. But even with the Hammers not being at Liverpool’s level, he’d still find himself fourth choice.
The task now for Paul Heckingbottom has to be to ensure Davies remains happy and convinced of the good times continuing at Sheffield United. The last few results have been a big plus. A few more wins, and the top six will be in sight for the Blades.
And if the top six is the hope for Sheffield United, then keeping Ben Davies in January has to be a top priority.