Sheffield United came agonisingly close to emulating Wolverhampton Wanderers’ feat from the previous campaign, by qualifying for the Europa League just a season after being promoted to the top-flight. Unfortunately for the Blades, they had to settle for a ninth-place finish, which considering they had what was deemed to be the second-lowest squad in terms of market value in the division (Transfermarkt), was mightily impressive.
The foundations of Chris Wilder’s side was their defence, conceding just 39 goals in 38 matches, which was only bettered by the top three finishers. Needless to say, their top performers have begun to attract interest from other Premier League sides, including Chris Basham, valued at £2.7m (Transfermarkt), who is reportedly the subject of interest from Newcastle United.
Even though the 32-year-old was a standout performer for the Blades last term, the Englishman is someone who Newcastle ought to avoid. Firstly, the central defender is already into his 30’s meaning it is unlikely he will be able to continue in the Premier League for any significant length of time, and his potential resale value is minimal at best.
Furthermore, Newcastle already have substantial depth at centre back, including captain Jamaal Lascelles, Federico Fernandez, Fabian Schar, Florian Lejeune and Paul Dummett, which means that Steve Bruce may be best off prioritising targets in other areas. Left back is a position where Newcastle are painfully short of options with Jetro Willems and Danny Rose departing after their loan moves.
Basham also has an incredibly similar defensive record to Schar, recording 2.2 tackles and two interceptions per match, to the Swiss defenders’ 1.8 tackles and 2.1 interceptions per 90 minutes in the Premier League last term. Given the similarities in their defensive statistics, it is unlikely that the 32-year-old will add an extra dimension to the Magpies’ backline.
Sheffield United’s overlapping centre backs have become a famous feature of Wilder’s side, seeing them move up into midfield. However, Basham recorded no more passes, 34.6 per game with a 74.7 per cent accuracy, than most Newcastle central defenders. The Magpies’ most reliable centre back in possession was Lascelles, who played an average of 35.3 passes per match, with a 79.8 per cent accuracy.
It appears that Basham would not be an upgrade on any of the centre backs currently at Bruce’s disposal, and Newcastle do not need to improve the depth in the centre of defence either. Therefore, any move for the 32-year-old would be funds that could be better used elsewhere.