Ethan Ebanks-Landell, one of several centre-halves being monitored by Sheffield United ahead of the new Championship campaign, has received another reminder that the long-term contract he signed with Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier this year does not guarantee his future at Molineux.
The 24-year-old, who spent last season on loan with Chris Wilder’s side, agreed a deal running until June 2020 after impressing then manager Paul Lambert with his performances for the League One title-winners.
But Wolves’ decision to part company with Lambert, handing control of their recruitment policy to super agent Jorge Mendes instead, has placed a question mark over whether Ebanks-Landell’s services are still required by the Scot’s successor Nuno Espirito Santo. It will not have gone unnoticed by the defender and his representatives that Andreas Weimann’s proposed move to the Black Country, which was brokered by Lambert, was yesterday scrapped by Wolves’ hierarchy. Sources close to Ebanks-Landell’s parent club last night confirmed that decision signalled Mendes and Espirito Santo plan to “take the club in a different direction” following talks with owners Fosun.
Although Ebanks-Landell welcomed Wolves’ decision to hand him fresh terms - “I couldn’t be happier. As a player, you always want that security” - he pointedly refused to rule-out the possibility of returning to United when questioned on the development five months ago.
Bramall Lane’s transfer negotiation team, at the behest of Wilder and his assistant Alan Knill, attempted to turn Ebanks-Landell’s temporary agreement into a permanent switch during the January window but were thwarted by Lambert’s determination to ensure he remained at Wolves.
However, with Roderick Miranda expected to join Ryan Bennett in Espirito Santo’s new-look squad, Ebanks-Landell’s prospects of regular first team football appear to be slim. Bennett also held exploratory talks with United after being released by Norwich City.
Wilder, who also hopes to prise Ricky Holmes away from Charlton Athletic, has unveiled Enda Stevens, Nathan Thomas and Enda Stevens since delivering promotion during his first season at the helm. Southend’s Ryan Leonard is another confirmed target with both United and Millwall, who are also courting the midfielder, refusing to withdraw their interest despite chairman Ron Martin’s claim he is “not for sale.” Although Leonard could still remain at Roots Hall - like Holmes he will be offered fresh terms this week - Southend’s stance is viewed as being good PR rather than a statement of absolute fact.
The Essex club lost £1.4m during the year ending July 2016 according to its last set of published accounts.
Charlton have adopted similar tactics in the battle to keep Holmes out of United’s clutches with Karl Robinson, Wilder’s counterpart at The Valley, recently acknowledging he plans to award the forward a new contract. Robinson wants to bolster his own attack during the close season with Fulham’s George Williams reportedly being lined-up for a move from west to south-east London. Crucially, though, Charlton are not yet believed to have submitted official bids for any of Robinson’s targets.
Williams, aged 21, spent the first half of last season on loan at MK Dons before returning to Craven Cottage.