Sheffield United hope Celtic’s protracted attempts to sign Manchester City centre-forward John Guidetti will allow them to steal a march in the race for Gary Mackay-Stevens’ services, writes James Shield.
As The Star revealed on last week, the Scottish Premiership champions are preparing to do battle with Bramall Lane’s hierarchy after also placing Mackay-Steven, the Dundee United attacker, on their list of January transfer targets.
Having initially denied the 24-year-old was being monitored by Ronny Deila, officials at Parkhead subsequently performed a u-turn and confirmed the manager’s interest. But with resolving Guidetti’s future Celtic’s immediate priority, Nigel Clough will attempt to open talks with Tannadice’s board of directors later this week despite seeing two bids for Mackay-Steven rejected by chairman Steven Thompson.
The Europa League hopefuls are thought to value the former Airdrieonians youngster at around £250,000 but with his contract set to expire at the end of the season, neither United or Celtic are prepared to enter an auction for a player who has scored five goals in 22 appearances this season.
“We are looking at the best Scottish players, of course,’ said Deila. “But we have not done anything.
“He (Mackay-Steven) is one of the players who have done well and of course we are looking, but we have not done anything official.”
Nevertheless, brokering a permanent transfer for the on-loan Guidetti remains Celtic’s number one priority.
Although they negotiated first refusal on the Swede before luring him to Glasgow four months ago, Guidetti has been forced to deny the uncertainty surrounding his long-term future is taking its toll on his performances.
“My agent will do what he does best,” he said. “Being an agent.
“He doesn’t tell me to take the ball with the inside of my foot on the pitch, so I don’t tell him how to do his job. You don’t bring an electrician into your house and tell him how to fit the plugs. It’s his job and I trust him to do it.
“I am not worried. I am just so happy to wear the Celtic shirt. The rest will work itself out, it always does.
“I’ll just try to stay fit and strong and the goals will come back. Everyone can be calm.”
United, who return to League One action against MK Dons this weekend, are deciding whether to make a third approach for Mackay-Stevens. Celtic are also monitoring his team mates Nadir Çiftçi and Stuart Armstrong but Dundee United value the latter at around £2m.
Meanwhile, United have rearranged their visits to Notts County and Rochdale for February 17 and 24 respectively.