After helping Sheffield United to promotion this season, there is a big question mark over the future of star forward, Iliman Ndiaye.
The Blades forward laid on the opening goal for Sander Berge last night to take his tally of assists for the season to 11, with another 14 goals further showing his class.
As we know, United rejected bids for Ndiaye in January. And that decision has proven to be masterstroke from the board.
But now, despite sealing a return to the top flight, Ndiaye faces an uncertain future. And with just over a year of his contract left to run, the Blades must get on top of things quickly.
Of course, in an ideal world, Iliman Ndiaye is offered a new contract and agrees to a long-term deal with United. That ties him down, keeps his value for the Blades, and means we’ll get at least one season of Premier League ‘Ili’.
But that is the ideal world and as Sheffield United fans, we know things don’t always pan out that way.
Ndiaye is said to be being monitored by as many as ten Premier League clubs, while reports from France are suggesting AC Milan are considering a bid for the Senegalese star.
That puts the pressure on United. There’s certain clubs we simply cannot compete with and when names like Milan get mentioned, it is a worry.
The best thing United’s board can do with Ndiaye is do their best to convince him to stick around, with certain promises made.
First off, they must offer that new deal. That new deal needs to be a big one and arguably, make him the highest paid player we’ve ever had. Wages of £50,000-a-week would be huge for United, but given Ndiaye’s quality, that’s where we might need to go.
If that is a no-go, there are two other realistic options. The first one would be to simply sell, cash-in, and spend the money on the rest of the squad. Ndiaye is nigh on impossible to replace, but he’d fetch at least £25m right now and that could be used to reinvest.
The second option would be to bargain with Ndiaye and effectively say give us this year and see. That comes with a huge risk. If we kept Ndiaye and went down, we’d lose our star man for nothing. But if he has a season like this and contributes to us staying up and in turn, another £150m+ in revenue, then that decision will have been vindicated, even if Ndiaye then moves on.
The whole situation is a tricky one really. We’ve been unable to sit down to negotiate any contracts, while Ndiaye’s agents have also reportedly been unwilling to come to the table as well.
One thing’s for sure, though, and that’s that Sheffield United need to get a grip on this situation. It cannot be allowed to dominate the summer and either way, a decision needs to be made.