Sheffield United have been granted permission to discuss personal terms with Billy Sharp, The Star can reveal.
Representatives acting on behalf of Nigel Adkins’ side agreed a transfer fee with Leeds, the centre-forward’s employers, before last night’s friendly at Exeter City.
Sharp is now expected to visit Bramall Lane, where he has enjoyed two previous spells as a player, for a medical over the weekend after returning home from the West Yorkshire club’s training camp in Austria.
The deal now appears to hinge on the results of those tests and the contractual terms United table although sources at Elland Road confirm Massimo Cellino, Leeds’ Italian owner, has yet to officially rubber-stamp the move.
However, they also report there is a desire among all three parties to “push the move through” at the “earliest possible opportunity” despite a series of logistical challenges and Cellino’s unwillingness to bear the cost of Sharp’s departure.
“I’ve been linked with Billy ever since I’ve joined,” Adkins said last night.
“Conversations have gone on. And with Billy being given permission, by the sound of things, to leave the training camp early, that would suggest conversations are fairly down the line.”
The prospect of resurrecting his partnership with Adkins following successful spells at both Scunthorpe and Southampton has convinced Sharp to explore the possibility of rejoining United five seasons after being sold to Doncaster Rovers.
Adkins, who also wants to bolster his options at centre-half ahead of next month’s League One curtainraiser against Gillingham, placed Sharp at the top of his wanted list after being unveiled as United’s new manager earlier this summer.
Uwe Rosler, Adkins’ counterpart at Leeds, suggested on Tuesday evening that Sharp would travel with the rest of his squad to Norway for a friendly against Hoffenheim tomorrow.
But, after being omitted from the team which faced Eintracht Frankfurt at the Sportzentrum Eugendorf, Rosler performed a u-turn and Sharp flew back to England last night.
Leeds paid a reported £600,000 to secure Sharp’s services from St Mary’s in August but are unlikely to recoup that sum having recruited Chris Woods and Lee Erwin for a combined total of £2.3m. Their presence has persuaded Rosler, who had previously insisted the 29-year-old remained part of his plans, that Sharp is no surplus to requirements.
Sharp progressed through United’s youth system before making his senior debut in 2004. He moved to Glanford Park for £100,000 nine months later but commanded a £2m price-tag after re-signing for his hometown club.