Sheffield United have confirmed the signing of Aaron Ramsdale for £18.5 million from Bournemouth.
The Cherries had rejected a bid of £12 million for Ramsdale earlier in the month, before Sheffield United decided to return with an increased offer.
The move would see Ramsdale return to Bramall Lane, after leaving Sheffield for the South Coast in January 2017 for a fee of £1 million having made just two appearance for the Blades in the FA Cup.
He would spend his first two seasons at Bournemouth away from the Vitality Stadium, having loan spells at League Two Chesterfield as they suffered relegation to the National League, and at League One AFC Wimbledon as they miraculously stayed in the division.
It was at Wimbledon where Ramsdale really caught the eye, making 20 league appearances and scooping the club’s Young Player of the Year award.
He also has experience on the international stage, having been capped by England from U16 level, right through to U21 level. He started all five games and kept three clean sheets as the Young Lions cruised to victory in the UEFA U19 European Championships in 2017.
Ramsdale made his breakthrough at his parent club this season, becoming Bournemouth’s number one during a tumultuous season.
The 22 year old, made his debut for the club in their opening game of the campaign, a 1-1 draw against his former employers Sheffield United. He would go on to register a further 36 Premier League appearances, missing one game through injury.
He kept five clean sheets and produced a number of impressive displays, despite the Cherries finishing 18th and suffering relegation. He was named Bournemouth’s Player of the Year and his performances certainly merited an immediate return to the top flight.
The move for Ramsdale signifies the end of the Blades’ pursuit for fellow young English goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who looks set to stay at Old Trafford and challenge De Gea for the number one spot.
Sheffield United had hoped to take him on loan for another campaign after his two successful spells at the club but felt priced out of a move as Henderson is set to sign a £100,000 a week contract to remain at the Red Devils for the foreseeable future.
United will reportedly ask any club keen to borrow the player to pay his full wages or at least a substantial amount of them, and Sheffield United didn’t want to break their wage structure to do so.
By taking Henderson on loan once again, Chris Wilder’s side would be in the same position next year as they are now, looking for a permanent goalkeeper with proven quality, as the 23 year old would again be returning to United having signed a long term contract there.
Ramsdale could be snapped up by another Premier a League outfit by that time and so Sheffield United thought it was best to act now, to have their own goalkeeper between the sticks for next season.
The £18.5 million fee will be the third highest in Sheffield United history, which highlights the ambition of Wilder and his owners to help to establish the Blades as a top half side.
Yet, that will not be what United will pay up front after some cute business behind the scenes from the Blades. A 15% sell on clause included in the original deal that brought Ramsdale to the South Coast will be knocked off the price.
As well as that, Bournemouth still owe money to the Blades for the purchase of David Brooks in 2018, whilst United also inserted a sell on clause in that deal, which means that they will not be breaking the bank to sign Ramsdale.
A large part of the deal is incentive based and includes add ons, which will only be paid if requirements are met. It is therefore reported that Sheffield United will pay just £12 million up front, which represents a real bargain.
Ramsdale is an astute addition at that price, given his young age and the fact that he has played in the Premier League before. He is a very capable shot stopper, having saved 67% of the efforts on target he faced last year, which was a total of 129 saves during the course of the season.
While Ramsdale conceded 62 goals last term that number will surely fall with a more settled and defensively solid back three or back five in front of him.
He will be eager to build on his terrific performances last season to stake a claim to travel with England to the European Championships next summer and the only way he will do this is by playing regularly in the Premier League, which Sheffield United are offering him the chance to do.
Ramsdale has made it clear to Bournemouth that he wants to return to South Yorkshire, and Wilder is keen to work with the goalkeeper again having admired him from afar for a number of years after reluctantly selling him during United’s League One title winning season.
Having seen how much Henderson has kicked on under Wilder, Ramsdale will be jumping at the opportunity to work with him and will hope he has a similar impact on his career trajectory as he did on Henderson’s.
All in all, it represents a great deal for all parties involved, with Sheffield United getting themselves a long term number one, Bournemouth a substantial fee which they can invest in their promotion push and Ramsdale the opportunity to show his class at the highest level once again.