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African billionaire ‘closes in on £90m takeover of Sheffield United’

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Sheffield United are reportedly close to being bought out by an African billionaire in a deal worth £90million.

The Blades are pushing for promotion back to the Premier League this season but were hit by a transfer embargo last month amid financial difficulties.

However, their problems are reportedly about to be eased by the takeover – though the identity of the prospective new owner remains a secret.

The Times report that the buyer is the subject of the EFL’s owners’ and directors’ test at present but no problems have been flagged so far.

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They say that the embargo, which prevents them buying a player for the next 18 months unless they win promotion, was imposed because the Blades failed to keep up payment instalments on signings.

This included payments to Liverpool for forward Rhian Brewster, who was signed in October 2020 for £23.5m but has failed to live up to expectations or his price tag.

The 22-year-old, part of the England team to win the Under-17 World Cup back in 2017, failed to break into Jurgen Klopp’s first-team plans and left for Bramall Lane in search of regular first-team football.

But he’s only managed 63 appearances for the Blades due to various hamstring problems and has registered a meagre five goals and one assist.

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United are also reportedly trying to renegotiate the structure of payments to Swedish club Malmo for the Bosnian defender Anel Ahmedhodzic, who moved last summer.

The embargo was imposed as Prince Abdullah, the club’s present Saudi owner, was close to selling the South Yorkshire club.

The uncertainty over finances led to reports the Blades would be forced to sell star midfielder Sander Berge during the January transfer window to raise funds.

The Norwegian was linked with a £20m move to either Newcastle or Fulham but the fact United held on to him is regarded as a sign their financial issues will be resolved imminently.

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Sheffield United are also in the possibly perilous position of losing 15 players for nothing this summer when their contracts expire.

Oliver Norwood, Wes Foderingham, Oli McBurnie and Billy Sharp are among the big names set to leave the club for nothing this summer.

The American Henry Mauriss was close to buying the club last year only for the takeover to collapse after he failed the EFL’s test.

However, The Times report the latest African bid for the club is much more viable.

Paul Heckingbottom’s side are on course to win promotion back to the Premier League automatically after they were beaten by Nottingham Forest in last season’s play-off semi-finals.

Currently second in the Championship table, they trail leaders Burnley by five points but have a 12-point cushion to Middlesbrough in third with a game in hand.

The club last played in the top-flight in 2020-21 and there would need to be squad investment in order to stay in the Premier League should they win promotion.

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