Leeds expect Sheffield United to consolidate their interest in Billy Sharp after Nigel Adkins placed his admiration for the striker on record, writes James Shield.
Officials at the League One club are monitoring the 29-year-old’s situation closely ahead of the forthcoming campaign but, contrary to reports, did not have a £500,000 offer accepted by their Yorkshire rivals yesterday morning.
With new manager Uwe Rosler paying around £2.5m to sign Leicester City’s Chris Wood, Leeds owner Massimo Cellino would be tempted to offload Sharp with Wigan Athletic also known to have expressed an interest in acquiring his services.
Adkins, who has worked with the centre-forward at Scunthorpe, Southampton and Reading, believes he can bring the best out of a player whose two previous spells at Bramall Lane have ended in disappointment.
“Billy Sharp’s an excellent player who I’ve always admired and always liked,” he said. “He’s a Leeds United player at this moment in time and that’s all I can say.”
Sharp’s situation is complicated by the fact Rosler views United’s Jamie Murphy as a viable alternative should fellow winger Michail Antonio prove impossible to prise away from Nottingham Forest. Sources close to Leeds, however, insist Cellino is unwilling to pay neither the £1.5m fee nor the meet the wage demands he believes would tempt both United and the former Scotland under-21 international’s intermediaries to the negotiating table.
Sharp cost an estimated £600,000 when he joined Leeds from Southampton in August. Adkins, who took charge of United last month, acknowledged on Tuesday his squad must improve at both ends of the pitch in order to consolidate its promotion credentials.