Chris Wilder has issued Southend with a transfer ultimatum, threatening to call-off his pursuit of Ryan Leonard unless a deal is finalised early next week.
The Sheffield United manager, who also revealed his employers are in discussions with Mark Duffy about extending the 32-year-old’s contract, held a meeting with Bramall Lane’s hierarchy to discuss the matter last night.
Although Leonard has made no secret of his desire to move north, negotiating the midfielder’s release is proving problematic for United despite first expressing an interest eight months ago.
Southend’s insistence on receiving a transfer fee up-front, rather than in staged payments, is believed to be one sticking point.
It has to come to a head over the next few days,” Wilder, whose side visit Ipswich Town in the FA Cup tomorrow, said. “We have a meeting and we will see where we are come the weekend.
“He was cup-tied, we have made a bid, and are going back and forth to Southend. I should imagine if nothing is done by the early part of next week, then it will get called off. We have other options and we will pursue them.
“We have tried, we are still trying. We always knew there would be a cut-off date after the weekend, because he was cup-tied.”
United, who yesterday confirmed David Brooks is suffering from glandular fever, are expected to enjoy more success during their talks with Duffy and his representative.
“He has got 18 months left, but we are in discussions with Mark to extend that,” Wilder added. “That’s the planning we are doing. When I first came to the football club there nine or 10 contracts up, that won’t happen again.
We will make decisions early. If players are part of the club and have done well, like Clarke, Fleck, Brooks - and Duffy is the next one up - they will get new contracts.
We are not handing out contracts, they are precious, but everyone recognises Duffy has had an outstanding first part of the season. He needs rewarding. We are way below paying players the average Championship wage, that’s a fact.”