On Premier League deadline day this past summer, Sheffield United seemingly secured quite the coup in the final moments of the window. Submitting a deal sheet to extend the transfer window a few more hours, the Blades were eventually able to confirm the signing of Muhamed Bešić on a one-year loan deal from Everton.
Fans were very excited at first, as they realized they were getting a decent player. Bešić had plenty of Premier League experience, and was even a fixture on the international stage, having made 39 appearances for Bosnia and Herzegovina, representing them at the 2014 World Cup.
However, it’s not quite come together for Bešić since joining the club, as he’s yet to feature for United in the league, forced to settle for minutes in the Carabao Cup instead.
For a player of his talents, that’s especially odd, and the situation is something that the Blades should certainly try to change after the upcoming international break.
Lack of rotation
If there’s one thing United boss Chris Wilder loves more than overlapping centre-backs, it’s making as few changes as possible to his starting lineup on a week to week basis.
That is especially true when it comes to the midfield, where the only changes made this season have been due to injury. The trio of John Lundstram, Oliver Norwood, and John Fleck has been the go-to for Wilder so far, with only Luke Freeman coming in for a few games after Lundstram picked up a knock early on.
You can’t really blame Wilder for sticking with those three time and time again. They were key in helping United get promoted from the Championship, and they have almost been just as good to start this season in the Premier League.
As the Blades are often underdogs in matches, winning the midfield battle is especially crucial. Preferring to keep the ball instead of just absorbing pressure, a big responsibility is put on the three central midfielders. Losing the ball in a dangerous area can be costly, as proven when a misplaced pass allowed Southampton to score the winning goal when they traveled to Bramall Lane.
However, after a few months at the highest level, other teams are starting to catch on.
A new dynamic
Bešić would bring a new dynamic to the team, which is something that could be crucial in the next few games.
United have started to look increasingly static in recent matches, which was really on show against Watford this past weekend. The Blades failed to create many chances against a side sat bottom of the league table.
Keeping the ball was easy, as they had over 60% percent of the possession on the afternoon, but doing something with it was the tough part for United. They only had three shots on target, which mostly came from set-pieces or crosses into the penalty area.
As the Blades start playing more and more, other teams are beginning to understand their tactics and gameplan.
United are no longer the new kids on the block who can surprise opponents but are now an established Premier League side teams recognize as incredibly tough to play against. Other sides are no longer taking them lightly, and now everyone is fully prepared for what the Blades have to offer.
That’s why springing Bešić in at the moment would bring a much-needed spark to the team. After playing in the Championship with a dreadful Middlesbrough side, most have forgotten about the Bosnian. He still possesses loads of quality, however, and he would change how other teams scout the Blades.
Bešić shines on the ball, as he loves to have it whenever possible. Able to dribble wherever he is on the pitch, his unpredictability can cause chaos for an opposition backline. He’s a capable passer as well and has no problem making a switch pass across the field when need be.
He’s known to take risks from time to time, and is far from clinical in the final third, but Bešić’s creativity could break down teams who park the bus against the Blades.
United like to roll with the 'defending by committee' kind of style, but Bešić could be useful when someone on the opposite side of the field needs to be man-marked.
That’s how he made his name in world football, famously following around Lionel Messi for 90 minutes when Bosnia took on Argentina in the 2014 World Cup. The FC Barcelona icon did find the back of the net in that contest, but would’ve done a lot more damage on the night if it wasn’t for Bešić.
He put on a similar showing a few years later, as he shut down Yaya Toure when Everton beat Manchester City in the first leg of a League Cup semifinal. Back when the Ivorian was in his prime, Bešić cut off any service to him, preventing him from finding space to operate in. It was a performance that had Blues fans falling in love with him, and a deserved contract extension soon followed.
Injuries have hampered his career since then, but there’s still plenty of reason to believe Bešić could still get the job done for United.
Imagine Paul Pogba running around Bramall Lane trying to create chances for Manchester United only to be met by the Bosnian everytime. Dani Ceballos is superb for Arsenal when he has time to pick out a pass, but he wouldn’t be afforded that luxury when up against Bešić.
The Blades will take on some truly world-class talent sooner rather than later, which could set the stage perfectly for Bešić to finally shine.
Making the most of it
United have made a decent start to life back in the Premier League, currently sat respectably in 13th place. However, they’re still far away from feeling comfortable, as the Blades are only two points off the bottom three. The fight to avoid relegation will likely last all season, which means United need all hands on deck for the year ahead.
That means getting Mo Bešić more involved, and allowing him the chance to prove why the Blades were so keen to sign him on Deadline Day.