Stoke City have joined Celtic in the race to sign Sheffield United right-back George Baldock, according to The Sun.
Apparently both clubs have turned to Baldock after missing out on Jack Stacey. Bournemouth signed Stacey from Luton Town in a £4m (BBC) deal yesterday.
The Hoops’ interest in Baldock has been known for some time. Manager Neil Lennon wants a new signing on the right side of defence after losing Cristian Gamboa, Mikael Lustig and Jeremy Toljan this summer.
The Express claimed that it would cost around £3m to land Baldock – whom the Blades do not want to sell. However, this latest report says that price-tag has now dropped to £1.5m.
Baldock has now entered the final year of his current contract at Bramall Lane, but could be in line for a new deal with a bumper pay rise after helping the South Yorkshire club to promotion to the Premier League.
Which is why it seems bizarre it is being reported United could sell the 26-year-old for such a relatively low fee.
Will George Baldock leave?
There do seem to be conflicting reports of how highly rated the defender is by the Blades. Baldock admittedly did share his role in Chris Wilder’s team last season with Kieron Freeman.
While Enda Stevens cemented his place at left wing-back, on the right there was less consistency. Baldock made 27 Championship appearances, while Freeman was close behind with 20.
It suggests Wilder was unsure of his best option in the position. If that was the case at that level, the problem will surely only be exacerbated in the top flight.
United have also been loosely linked with other right-back options. The Daily Mail said a deal was offered to Antonio Valencia, but the former Manchester United captain has since returned to Ecuador and joined LDU Quito.
Free agent Todd Kane was also named as an option by Football Insider after leaving Chelsea.
Yet if claims Wilder rates Baldock highly are true and a new contract is imminent, surely neither Celtic or Stoke stand a chance of signing him?