Phil Jagielka signing a new contract is important to more Sheffield United players than just the defender himself.
Jagielka is the only Blade due to become a free agent this summer expected to be given a new deal by the club.
Despite turning 38-years-old today, the former England international is set to be handed a one-year extension to his playing time at Bramall Lane.
Jagielka made just 10 appearances for United last season after rejoining from Everton. Yet it is the centre-back’s influence away from the pitch that has proven so vital.
“He’s got more knowledge at this level than anyone else here. He knows what is required and he’s a consummate professional,” Chris Wilder told the Sheffield Star when asked about Jagielka.
“Even though he’s not played as much as he would have liked, Jags has always been there helping people out in the dressing room, making sure they’re properly prepared and passing on any advice that he can.”
Who will benefit most from new Phil Jagielka contract?
It makes sense that those who have learned the most from Jagielka in Wilder’s squad are fellow central defenders.
Chris Basham has played in the Premier League before and is experienced himself. However, for John Egan and Jack O’Connell, last term was brand new.
Which is why it is worth taking note when O’Connell describes Jagielka as “perhaps my biggest influence here”.
In their first top flight campaign in 12 years, the Blades finished with a defensive record that was only bettered by the division’s top three teams.
O’Connell, personally, received plenty of plaudits. Stan Collymore named the 26-year-old in his team of the year. Meanwhile, Gareth Southgate is monitoring him ahead of a potential England call-up.
Jagielka is by some distance Wilder’s most experienced Premier League player, having played 366 times in the competition. The veteran also has 40 caps for his country.
That know-how has clearly proven vital to the development of teammates like O’Connell. Even if Jagielka doesn’t play a single minute in 2020/21, that alone means his new contract will be worth it.