Jack O’Connell has signed a new contract with Sheffield United. It extends his stay until the summer of 2023.

The last extension O’Connell put pen to paper to came in November 2017 and lasted until 2022. Now the Blades have secured one of their key players for further 12 months.

“It’s another boost that Jack has pledged his long-term future here and we are all delighted,” manager Chris Wilder told the club’s official website. “He’s been a big part of the past and will play a big part in the future for us.

“It backs up our commitment of rewarding the players who have served us well and ones that we believe will continue to grow with the club.”

Why is new O’Connell deal so important?

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

The defender has been a crucial part of Wilder’s plans since arriving from Brentford in the summer of 2016. In fact, before picking up a hamstring injury in the recent 3-3 draw at Aston Villa, O’Connell had started 106 consecutive league games for United.

The 24-year-old came to Bramall Lane at the same time as Wilder and instantly fit into his expansive wing-back system. O’Connell is a crucial component in the overlapping centre-back tactics that has been so widely praised.

There’s no doubting that the former England Under-19 has been among the best defenders in the Championship this season.

As Blades Analytics highlights on Twitter, only six centre halves in the division are above average for duel win percentage, aerial win percentage, final third passes and deep completed passes. O’Connell is one.

Which is perhaps why Brighton and Hove Albion made an £8m bid for the Blades star last summer, according to the Daily Mail.

As O’Connell continues to impress, those from the Premier League are sure to be keeping a close eye.

If United aren’t promoted themselves this season, he could well leave. Which is why tying O’Connell down to a new deal – and therefore placing themselves in a stronger negotiating position – is a smart move by the club.

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