Chris Wilder has described Jamal Blackman as Sheffield United’s “number one” transfer target after unveiling the Chelsea goalkeeper as his seventh summer signing.
The former England youth international arrives at Bramall Lane on a season long loan and is expected to make his competitive debut for the club against Brentford next weekend.
The Star understands Blackman, aged 23, attracted Wilder’s interest long before Simon Moore suffered a knee injury during his team’s victory over Rotherham earlier this month. But the sight of the 27-year-old being stretchered-off the pitch at New York Stadium prompted the United manager to accelerate his pursuit of the Stamford Bridge youngster.
“Jamal has been our number one target right the way through the summer,” Wilder said. “He’s highly regarded, someone we’ve admired for a long time now and we’re delighted to bring him in.”
Although Blackman is believed to have met his new team mates ahead of tonight’s friendly against Eastleigh, his presence was not officially confirmed until Chelsea had completed their own contractual negotiations with the player and his representative. Antonio Conte’s desire to extend Blackman’s deal before sanctioning his departure underlines how highly he is regarded in west London.
“There was a situation with his new contract at Chelsea so we’ve had to be patient but we are delighted that he is with us now because there were a few clubs in for him,” Wilder added. “He provides genuine competition in an important area of the pitch.”
With Moore set to miss the Championship opener with Dean Smith’s side, Blackman will battle it out with Jake Eastwood for a starting berth.
Wilder, who completed a deal for Oxford midfielder John Lundstram earlier this week, still wants to recruit three new faces before the transfer deadline with Southend captain Ryan Leonard and Blackburn Rovers defender Darragh Lenihan among the names on his wanted list.
Lenihan, a former Republic of Ireland under-21 international, has already been the subject of one undisclosed bid by United while Leonard has made no secret of his desire to leave Roots Hall.