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Why 'bargain' deal for Sheffield United to sign Zivkovic never happened

Chris Wilder has explained why Sheffield United never completed the permanent signing of Richairo Zivkovic.

Zivkovic spent the second half of last season loan at Bramall Lane from Chinese side Changchun Yatai.

There was the option to sign the striker permanently, which the Blades did consider.

After all, unlike fellow loanee Panos Retsos, his stay in South Yorkshire was extended post-lockdown.

In the end, Zivkovic played five times for United, coming off the bench in the Premier League for all of them.

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Yet even though Wilder said the deal to sign the 24-year-old permanently was a “bargain”, the club decided against it.

“He would have possibly come on a bargain deal in terms of a fee, so Richairo was one that allowed us an opportunity to have a look,” the Blades manager told Yorkshire Live.

“I believed we needed pace up top for this year. So he came to us on a little bit of a play before you pay scenario. And the biggest thing is we looked at him on the training ground as well.

“He had contributions as well. He came on the pitch a couple of times, but also from a players’ point of view, when you see a couple of really good players who come in, it keeps the standards high.

“From Richairo’s point of view, he possibly didn’t do as well as we might have wanted him to do. But he didn’t really get the opportunities because of the players and the form they were in.”

Zivkovic replacement a bigger success for Sheffield United

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When Zivkovic left at the end of 2019/20, Wilder entered the transfer market once more to recruit in attack.

With Leon Clarke having also been released, Rhian Brewster and Oli Burke were signed.

In terms of offering pace upfront as Zivkovic was signed to do, Burke fits that category more obviously.

The arrival of Burke as part of the deal which saw Callum Robinson move the opposite way to West Bromwich Albion was something of a gamble itself.

While clearly talented, the Scotland international had struggled to show consistent form in his career.

Yet Burke seems to have turned a corner at United and has already become a fan favourite with his direct running and work rate.

The 23-year-old scored his first goal for the club in the FA Cup win at Bristol Rovers. Burke then netted the winner in the recent victory over Manchester United.

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