Any hopes Sheffield United may have of bringing Chelsea youngster Carney Chukwuemeka to Bramall Lane this summer could hinge on the arrival of the Blues’ new manager this summer, with Mauricio Pochettino understood to be a fan of the £20m youngster.
Chukwuemeka was linked with the Blades earlier this week as United look to assemble a squad capable of competing in the Premier League following promotion. Boss Paul Heckingbottom is working with a modest budget and as such much of the emphasis is being placed on loan deals, with United looking to repeat the success of James McAtee and Tommy Doyle’s temporary spells at Bramall Lane last season.
Still only 19, Chukwuemeka commanded a £20m fee when he moved to Stamford Bridge from Aston Villa and has made 12 appearances for Frank Lampard’s side this season - with 11 from the bench. Originally named alongside United’s Daniel Jebbison in the England squad for the U20 World Cup this month, the midfielder will now miss the entire group stage to remain with his club amid injury concerns over teammates Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante and Mason Mount.
With former Spurs boss Pochettino preparing to be unveiled as Graham Potter’s permanent successor, the Argentine will no doubt want a good look at Chukwuemeka this summer before sanctioning any potential loan departure and Pochettino’s apparent awareness of the tall, Austria-born starlet’s qualities may provide an added complication if United do decide to follow up their reported interest with a concrete approach.
The two clubs have previously enjoyed a good relationship, doing business before with loan deals for the likes of Jamal Blackman and Ethan Ampadu, with Bramall Lane viewed as a good destination for top Premier League clubs to park their talent for a season.
As well as Doyle and McAtee, Dean Henderson and Morgan Gibbs-White have both advanced their careers with temporary spells in South Yorkshire and a season of first-team football in the top-flight would have obvious advantages for both Chelsea and Chukwuemeka, previously described by former Villa boss Steven Gerrard - a man who knows a thing or two about being a top midfielder - as a “big talent”.
"I really enjoyed working with Carney,” said Gerrard after sanctioning Chukwuemeka’s move to Stamford Bridge. “He’s obviously a big talent and someone who’s got big potential.
"When we came in, we worked ever so hard to work on his development and shape him, try and polish him up. So Chelsea are getting a big talent."