Che Adams’ failure to provide a firm commitment to Sheffield United paved the way for his departure from Bramall Lane.
Chris Wilder made the admission after the England youth international, who appeared as a substitute against Bolton Wanderers last weekend, joined Birmingham City yesterday.
The Championship club have agreed to pay around £2m for Adams after seeing bids of £1.2m and £1.7m rejected by United’s board of directors last month.
“It was a difficult situation,” Wilder told The Star. “We managed to get a decent fee for him and one that covers us. The boy made it obvious that he wanted to go and speak to them. My focus has always been on the group and the team. I think we’ve got an excellent price for a player who isn’t the finished article yet and we wish him all the best.”
As The Star reported earlier this month, City manager Gary Rowett was convinced Adams had set his heart on a move to St Andrews after news of their interest first broke. The 20-year-old, signed from non-league Ilkeston by Wilder’s predecessor Nigel Clough in 2014, held informal talks with Wilder on the eve of the new League One season before being named in the squad beaten 1-0 at the Macron Stadium.
Asked whether he only wanted to recruit players “totally dedicated” to United, Wilder replied: “That’s one hundred per cent. No doubt about it. That’s the way it’s got to be surely?”
United will use a significant portion of the money they are set to receive from City to bolster the options at Wilder’s disposal. A number of potential targets, including Ryan Kent and Grant Ward, had been identified before City first made contact regarding Adams. Although they have since joined Barnsley and Ipswich Town respectively, Wilder said: “We’re always looking and I’ll be speaking to Steve (chief executive Stephen Bettis) and Carl (Schieber, United’s player contract negotiation specialist) about areas we need to stiffen-up.
“We’ve got to recognise we have paid a player off (Dean Hammond) and are still carrying some big contracts. We have to be mindful of that. But I’ve been backed and I’m extremely appreciative of that.”
Adams could be officially unveiled by City before United host Crewe Alexandra in the first round of the EFL Cup tonight. The fixture marks Wilder’s competitive home debut since being appointed as manager in May.
“For us, as a group, this is our first game at our ground of the season,” he said. “And we want to make a good first impression.”
United were beaten eight times on home soil under Nigel Adkins last term but Wilder added: “I don’t want teams rolling into town, getting a result, and then getting back on the bus thinking ‘well that was easy.’ To go through an entire season at home unbeaten would be a phenomenal achievement and, the likelihood is that someone is going to get a result here at some point. But, if they do, I want it to be that they’ve had to go through everybody - players, coaching staff and supporters - to get it. That’s the type of desire we’ve got to show and have. That the opposition is facing all of us.”