When Chris Wilder arrived at Bramall Lane in 2016, not many Sheffield United supporters would have been able to predict just how big of an impact the 51-year-old would have on their club’s fortunes over the coming years.
After leading his side to the League One title in his debut season in charge, the former Northampton Town boss narrowly missed out on the play-offs during the following campaign as the Blades showed no signs of being intimidated by their new surroundings.
Having spent the summer of 2018 making vital upgrades to his squad by bringing in the likes of Oliver Norwood, John Egan, Dean Henderson and David McGoldrick, Wilder created the foundations needed to launch a sustained push for automatic promotion.
Although the Blades would face a gargantuan battle with Leeds United for second place in the Championship, a run of three consecutive victories last month saw them secure a remarkable return to the Premier League.
With Wilder undoubtedly looking to bolster his options ahead of next season, it is hardly surprising that United have been already been linked with a move for a player who has a proven record of performing in the top-flight.
According to The Sun, the Blades are reportedly interested in signing Everton defender Phil Jagielka when the transfer window opens in July. With his current deal at Goodison Park set to expire next month, the 36-year-old could re-join his former club for free if they can come to an agreement over wages.
Keeping this rumour in mind, let’s compare Jagielka with one of United’s current defensive aces…
Having represented the Blades during their most recent Premier League campaign in 2007, it would be a fitting end to Phil Jagielka’s illustrious career if he agrees to a move back to Bramall Lane this summer.
Although he only featured in seven top-flight games for the Toffees during the 2018/19 campaign, the former England international demonstrated that he is still more than capable of competing against the very best and therefore could prove to be a valuable addition to Wilder’s squad.
However, when you consider that United already have three fantastic central-defenders at their disposal, Jagielka may find it tough to find a regular spot in the club’s starting eleven next season.
TT GRADE: B+
Arguably one of the stand-out performers in the Championship this year, Jack O’Connell has developed into an incredible defender under Chris Wilder since joining the Blades from Brentford in 2016.
With two promotions under his belt, the £4.5m-rated ace (via Transfermarkt) is clearly ready to make the step up to the Premier League and has all the attributes needed to succeed at the top level. A superb reader of the game who also has an eye for a pass, O’Connell is a cultured footballer who will only get better as he gets older.
If the Blades manage to prolong their stay in the top-flight, it would not be at all surprising if the Republic of Ireland international has a major role if his recent successes are anything to go by.
TT GRADE: A
Although Phil Jagielka would bring an abundance of Premier League experience with him to Bramall Lane if he does return, Wilder should steer clear of signing the Everton defender as he already has better options to choose from in his position.
With Jack O’Connell being more than capable of leading United’s back-three to success next year, the club should consider using their funds to bolster the squad in other areas which need addressing this summer.
Blades fans, should Wilder consider making a move for Jagielka when the transfer window opens in July? Join the discussion by commenting below.