Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder may well have just hinted at a permanent deal for goalkeeper Dean Henderson.
Henderson is currently midway through his second season on loan at Bramall Lane from Manchester United.
The Blades are thought to be keen on signing the 22-year-old on a permanent basis. However, it’s believed Henderson would prove to be too expensive.
Previous reports state it would take around £20m to land the stopper. Meanwhile, the contract he signed at Old Trafford in July is thought to be worth £75,000-a-week.
Yet a slightly cryptic response Wilder gave when asked about the January transfer window could well be in reference to Henderson. The 52-year-old confirmed to BBC Radio Sheffield the club is targeting “two or three” new signings in the new year, before adding:
“Is it going to be two or three permanent transfers? I shouldn’t think so. It will be a mix. There’s always a loan with an option to buy in the summer as well.”
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Why does this hint at potential Dean Henderson deal?
There is a reason these comments may hold some significance. Under Premier League guidelines, a club cannot have more than two loanees in their squad.
The Blades’ two spots are currently filled by Henderson and Everton’s Mo Besic. So for Wilder to suggest he is planning to sign another loan player in January means either one of them will be sent back, or signed permanently.
The former seems unlikely. Henderson is a key player for Wilder, missing just one league match this term with Man United because he couldn’t play against his parent club.
Besic has been more of a bit-part player, but has impressed when used and is clearly highly thought of in South Yorkshire.
Wilder’s reference to “a loan with an option to buy” wouldn’t circumnavigate the rules, either.
So perhaps he is lining up a permanent deal for Henderson? Therefore freeing up a place for another loanee.