Exclusive - Manchester United could allow emerging star goalkeeper Dean Henderson to join Sheffield United in a permanent deal that would include a buyback clause, allowing the Old Trafford club to keep a firm vested interest in the player’s development.
Henderson is currently enjoying a second season-long loan at Bramall Lane and has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League since the Blades were promoted in 2019. The 22-year-old has kept nine top flight clean sheets, the same number as Liverpool stopper Alisson.
The Cumbrian-born talent has performed so well that he has played himself into contention for a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad at Euro 2020 this summer.
Henderson signed fresh terms at Old Trafford in July, prior to returning to Sheffield, that runs until the summer of 2022 and can be extended to 2023. But any immediate future with his parent club is difficult because of David de Gea, who only recently agreed a new long-term contract himself.
A source has told 90min that Henderson is not expected to be in Manchester next season. He could return to Sheffield United for a third loan, with the Blades set to remain in the top flight and even in contention to qualify for European football. A permanent deal, however, could be explored.
The two clubs would consider the inclusion of a buyback clause in any such deal, with a view to Henderson eventually becoming long-term number one at Old Trafford and thereby also the future long-term successor to De Gea, who turns 30 next season.
United see the situation as comparable to the one Chelsea were in several years ago when they were balancing emerging star Thibaut Courtois and established veteran Petr Cech. The former spent three years on loan at Atletico Madrid before Chelsea opted to make the switch in 2014, with the latter demoted to second choice and later sold.
With Manchester United unwilling to cut all ties with Henderson, a permanent deal with a buyback clause would more favourable to Sheffield United than continuing loan arrangements. Premier League clubs are currently limited to just two registered loan players from other teams in the division at any one time.
Another loan for Henderson next season would eat into that small quota and restrict what the Blades can do in the transfer market - particularly if they do end up qualifying for European football and are in need greater squad depth to cope with the additional demands.
Were it to be a loan, Manchester United would not be affected by FIFA’s coming changes to the loan system, with new caps applicable to international deals rather than domestic ones.