It’s a rare thing in football when one team’s problem becomes another team’s headache, but it looks like that’s exactly how things have transpired for Sheffield United this summer.
After two fantastic seasons on loan in the Steel City, Dean Henderson’s time with the Blades may finally be up, after a catastrophic decline in David De Gea’s form has forced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to consider his options between the sticks.
Henderson, 23, has quickly made a name for himself as one of the top goalkeepers in the country, with many fans starting to believe he could nail down a place as England’s number one in the not too distant future.
Meanwhile, De Gea’s stock has shot in the opposite direction, after a series of playground blunders for both club and country. Although he has received public backing from Solskjaer at club level, he has started just two of Spain’s last nine competitive games, and it is becoming abundantly clear that he is out of favour.
Despite Solskjaer standing in solidarity with De Gea when put on the spot by reporters, there are mumblings within Manchester United that it may be time to replace the Spaniard. Unfortunately for Sheffield United, Henderson is the obvious solution.
If the Blades cannot extend Henderson’s stay in Sheffield, and Henderson finds himself vying for the number one shirt in Manchester, a list of alternatives has been readied by Chris Wilder.
An experienced head in Ben Foster ticks a lot of boxes for a Premier League side. Bags of appearances under his belt, a commanding presence behind an already impressive backline, and someone who will command a nominal fee considering Vicarage Road has been condemned to Championship football.
The Vitality Stadium will welcome the Hornets next year, as Aaron Ramsdale and Foster are set to go head to head. Both men have been linked, and similarly to Foster, Ramsdale may want to bask in the waters of England’s top-flight for a little while yet.
Unlike the Watford man, Ramsdale has youth on his side, and will likely command a more significant fee. Five clean sheets in 37 Premier League games for relegated Bournemouth, at 22-years-old, may have been enough to showcase his suitability to play at the highest level. Depending on the stance of Bournemouth’s new manager and the promises made to his goalkeeper, Ramsdale may be out of the door.
A man recently denied the shot at playing at such a level, thanks to Scott Parker’s Fulham, also finds himself firmly in Wilder’s sights. Alex Smithies, Cardiff’s 30-year-old shot-stopper, has had a great campaign in the Championship. Cardiff managed 11 clean sheets in the league this season with the reliable Englishman in net.
Smithies will, like those who share Wilder’s list of prospective goalkeeping options, be available for a fee that won’t cost the earth.
It’s almost guaranteed that Henderson will play wherever he is next season. With Euro 2021 in his sights, it’s difficult to foresee a scenario where he would willingly agree to play second fiddle ahead of the Euros. If Henderson stays at United, he remains as number one. Otherwise, it’s back to Sheffield, much to the red side of Sheffield’s delight.
Written by @Transferchecker
Feature Graphic by Sam Ingram – @SamIngram_