Slavisa Jokanovic has emerged as Sheffield United’s first choice to become their new manager but will only sign if he is backed in the transfer market, we can reveal.
The former Fulham and Watford boss is currently managing in Qatar and he guided Al-Gharafa to a fourth-placed finish, which gained them entry to the Asian Champions League. Jokanovic is still highly thought of in England after the jobs he did at Craven Cottage and Vicarage Road.
Having had talks with the 52-year-old, the Blades now believe he is the man to succeed Chris Wilder and take them straight back to the Premier League.
United’s manager search was re-started last month when chairman Prince Musaad Bin Khalid Al Saud resigned. Since then his interim replacement Yusuf Giansiracusa has been looking at a host of options.
They had been considering the likes of KV Oostende chief Alexander Blessin. Former Fulham sporting director Javi Pereira, who has been managing in China, and Lincoln boss Michael Appleton are also on their radar.
Despite talking to numerous names it is Jokanovic they are now focusing on. We understand that talks are ongoing after an official approach to his club Al-Gharafa.
The situation is complicated by the fact that he still has a year left on his contract. Jokanovic is also earning a sizeable salary in Qatar.
We understand that Jokanovic is now considering his options, as he is intrigued by the prospect of taking charge at Bramall Lane.
However, he wants assurances about being given financial backing to take Sheffield United back up at the first time of asking.
Berge season ended early
Meanwhile, Sander Berge has played his last game of the season, Sheffield United interim boss Paul Heckingbottom has confirmed.
The 23-year-old has only recently returned to action after spending more than four months out with a hamstring injury. His latest problem is not related to that issue. But Heckingbottom insists no chances will be taken with the former club-record signing, with just three Premier League matches left.
“We won’t take any risks with Sander,” said Heckingbottom. “Let me stress, it’s nothing to do with his previous injury – that’s 100 per cent fine and we’re over the moon with that.
“This is another niggle. Sander has pushed himself to be fit and played minutes and just picked up other little niggles, it happens. The fact he has been out for such a long period of time and came back means we won’t push him.
“If he is fit then fine. But at this stage of the season and with where we are, and because he’s been out so long, we won’t risk him between now and the end of the season.”
There has been speculation that Premier League clubs could try to sign Berge after their relegation. Hence, there could be fears that he has played his last game for the club.
Berge is not the only player who will not feature again this season after Heckingbottom also revealed that Oliver Burke has fractured a bone in his foot.