Bristol City CEO, Mark Ashton, has been discussing the future of reported Sheffield United transfer target Josh Brownhill.
TEAMtalk reported in August that the Blades and Burnley were both interested in signing Brownhill. At the time it was claimed it would cost in excess of £15m to land the midfielder.
Chris Wilder is said to be a long-term admirer of Brownhill and wanted to add his energy to the United midfield. Instead, Mo Besic was signed on a season-long loan from Everton on deadline day. Besic has managed just one nine-minute substitute appearance in the Premier League since then.
Meanwhile, Brownhill has continued to be crucial for the Robins. The 23-year-old is yet to miss a single minute of Championship action this season, scoring four goals in the process.
Which is perhaps why Ashton is fending off speculation about Brownhill’s future.
“The message is really simple and that goes for all the players, we do not have to sell anybody and that’s where I am so fortunate, that Steve and Maggie (Lansdown, owners) are outstanding,” he told Bristol Live when asked what would happen if a bid came in for Brownhill.
“I’ve been here when it was Jonathan Kodjia, Bobby Reid, Aden Flint, Webby (Adam Webster); they have never once said to me, go and get as much as you can.
“It’s been the other way around: part of the business development is, ‘Steve, this is happening with player X, we may get an offer in with player Y, if I think it’s the right offer I will bring it to you to get your thoughts and the board’s’.”
Could Sheffield United still revive interest in transfer target?
This could be viewed as a hands-off message from Ashton. Yet the four players he mentions by name all left to further develop their careers. In the case of Reid and Webster, they were tempted by moves to top flight sides.
The Sheffield Star reports that midfield is one of the areas targeted for improvement in the January transfer window. This was revealed after a meeting in Dubai between Wilder and United owner Prince Abdullah and director Jan van Winckel.
John Lundstram, Oliver Norwood and John Fleck are the current established starting trio in the middle. Behind them Besic, Ravel Morrison and Ben Osborn have struggled for game time. Luke Freeman has fared slightly better, but is still very much fourth choice.
But Wilder will need options beyond his preferred three. And it is easy to see box-to-box ace Brownhill fitting into the system.