Sheffield United Opinion: The Blades should sign Luke Freeman quickly
According to Sky Sports, Premier League newcomers Sheffield United are closing in on a deal for Queens Park Rangers midfielder Luke Freeman, with reports claiming that Blades manager Chris Wilder is hopeful of the move being finalised soon.
The move, if it materializes, would be the Blades’ first signing since securing promotion to the Premier League.
Sheffield, however, are not alone in the race to sign Freeman this summer, with Leeds Live claiming that Championship promotion hopefuls Leeds United also keen on securing the 27-year-old’s services in order to boost their chances of making a return to the Premier League.
However, as things stand, Sheffield United are in pole position to land him, with reports claiming that a deal is on the verge of completion, and Bramall Lane looks Freeman’s most likely destination.
Freeman was one of the shining lights of QPR’s otherwise disappointing campaign in the Championship last season.
The 27-year-old once again proved his worth as a versatile attacking midfielder in the second-tier and contributed with a total of 7 goals and 6 assists in 43 appearances, as Steve McClaren’s side finished 19th in the league.
A youth product of Gillingham, Freeman was snapped up by Arsenal back in 2008 as a promising young talent but he never managed to make it to the Gunners first-team, consequently spending time on loan at Yeovil Town and Stevenage in League One, joining the latter permanently.
The midfielder registered 17 goals and 19 assists in 129 appearances for Stevenage in all competitions over the course of three seasons before moving on to Bristol City back in 2014.
Freeman fired the Robins to a promotion-winning campaign in the third-tier in his very first season and eventually established himself as a key component of their team in the Championship.
His impressive run of form at Ashton Gate earned him a move to QPR in 2016 and he has gone from strength to strength over the years, putting his failure to make the grade at Arsenal behind himself.
The 27-year-old has by far been one of the most consistent performers at Loftus Road over the last couple of campaigns and he definitely deserves the chance to prove his credentials in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, Sheffield United are yet to set the ball rolling in the summer transfer window and it is high time for the Blades to bring in some fresh faces in a bid to add more depth and quality to their ranks.
They finished runners-up to Norwich City in the Championship last season but it is a no-brainer that they need to plan an overall squad upgrade if they are really serious about preserving their Premier League status.
The likes of Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick, who played a key role in their promotion-winning campaign last term, are unlikely to play a big part in the Premier League next season given their advancing years, whilst loanees Marvin Johnson, Gary Madine and Scott Hogan have already returned to their parent clubs Middlesbrough, Cardiff City and Aston Villa respectively.
Plus, the Blades have released the likes of Martin Cranie, Conor Washington, Caolan Lavery, Danny Lafferty and Paul Coutts, which further epitomises the need of bringing in new players.
A versatile attacking midfielder by trade, Freeman is an elegant and technically-gifted left-footed creative ace, who is capable of playing in multiple positions across the midfield and attacking third.
Adept at playing in a No.10 role behind the striker and also on either side of the pitch as a winger, the 27-year-old is at his best when given a free role in the final third, which allows him to bring his creative passing and accurate crossing into play.
To add to that, he has an absolute wand of a left foot that is capable of turning the game on its head with match-defining passes and powerful long-range shots.
Freeman averaged 2 key passes, 2.1 crosses, 1.6 dribbles and 2 shots per game in the Championship last term, figures which speak volumes of his creativity as an attacking midfielder.
His lack of Premier League experience makes him somewhat of a gamble for Sheffield United but he is still only 27, meaning that he has a lot of time to make significant improvements to his game required to make the jump to the top-flight.
In John Fleck and Oliver Norwood, the Blades have two quality central midfielders and Freeman, who is a lot more creative in his style of play, could go on to complement the duo effectively at Bramall Lane.
Mark Duffy played that role to perfection in the Championship last season but given that he is already 33, investing in Luke Freeman would be worth a punt for the Blades.
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That said, Sheffield United should complete this deal at the earliest and make Freeman their first summer signing.