But, make no mistake, last night’s announcement that David Brooks has signed a new contract with Sheffield United is a significant development.
Not least, manager Chris Wilder explained, because the player himself has issued an unequivocal statement that Bramall Lane, not St James’ Park or Anfield, is where he wants to continue his development.
“Some are being run by agents,” Wilder said. “But this boy isn’t, he wants to stay here. Brooksy made that perfectly clear to his representative who then did the deal.”
Brooks, whose virtuoso displays this term have made him one of the most talked-about players outside the top-flight, is now tied to United until at least the end of the 2021 season. It is conceivable, given the ease with which they have adapted to Championship football, that Wilder’s team might already be competing at the highest level when the youngster’s latest agreement expires.
Nevertheless, if Brooks’ career continues on the same trajectory, he is certain to attract a multi-million offer either in January or, more likely, at the end of the present campaign. The board’s decision to revise the terms of the 20-year-old’s employment is designed to not only reflect his status as an international footballer after being called-up by Wales for their recent games against Georgia and the Republic of Ireland, but also protect their investment. Brooks, who only made his full league debut for Wilder’s team a month ago, joined United’s Steelphalt Academy in 2014 after leaving Manchester City.
“He is an important player for us, no doubt about that, and that’s why he has been rewarded with an improved contract,” Wilder, confirming it contains a clause which could tie Brooks to the club for a further year, said.
Arguably the biggest benefit United have reaped from last season’s League One title-winning campaign, besides status and prestige, is that it has tipped the balance back in their favour when it comes to retaining home-grown talent. The £1m Everton paid to acquire Dominic Calvert-Lewin now looks a steal given that the former United centre-forward has subsequently made 26 senior appearances for Ronald Koeman’s squad. But, when he made the move to Goodison Park two summers ago, United were still living hand-to-mouth in the third tier of English football. Crucially, the player also had only three starts for United on his CV. Recent results - last weekend’s win over Ipswich Town saw them move to within two points of leaders Wolves - coupled with the fact Brooks has already surpassed Calvert-Lewin’s appearance figures at the club mean United could expect to receive well over 10 times that amount if he eventually leaves South Yorkshire.
“He enjoys his football, you can see the way he plays, and this is the right club for him,” Wilder said. “I am not going to say he will be here for the next 10-15 years, you don’t know what’s round the corner in football. But he sees his immediate future here and I am delighted.”