This article is part of Football FanCast’s Transfer Focus series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent transfer news…
According to The Sun (June 26, Page 51), Sheffield United are interested in Paddy McNair.
The Middlesbrough man has had a rollercoaster of a career thus far from making his debut with Manchester United to being relegated from the Championship with Sunderland.
He has since moved to Boro, and his performances at the Riverside Stadium could see him offered a path back into the top-flight.
The Sun (June 26, Page 51) have stated that Chris Wilder is a big admirer of the Northern Ireland international. They highlight his versatility as something the Blades boss has taken a big interest in as he can play as either a midfielder or a defender.
The Yorkshire club have previously been linked with Ashley Williams (The Sun, June 8, Page 67) and Phil Jagielka as defensive options, but it seems they could be going for a younger alternative in McNair.
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The beauty of Sheffield United signing McNair is that he would be able to cover three positions rather than just one or two.
With the way Wilder’s side lines up, his three centre-backs play two very different roles. The outside defenders are given creative freedom to push forward and join attacks, while the third centre-half must sit deep and take on more defensive responsibility.
The Northern Irishman could also play in the midfield pivot alongside either John Fleck or Oliver Norwood.
The 24-year-old possesses all the qualities needed to play in those positions. McNair likes to dribble and play short passes, so that immediately endears him to an outside centre-back or central midfield role. He also learnt the art of playing as a no-nonsense defender under Tony Pulis at Boro as his side conceded just eight goals in the 16 league games he appeared in last term.
The former Man United player’s versatility is something Wilder may cherish next season. His system requires specialised players for each role, but in McNair he may well have a player who can cover three different positions.