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Sheffield United CEO details late Manchester City James McAtee transfer twist



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Manchester City loanee James McAtee successfully forced a move to Sheffield United after being close to a return to the Sky Bet Championship.

The 20-year-old moved to Bramall Lane for a second successive season on Deadline Day, joining Sheffield United in the top-flight, having helped the Blades to Premier League promotion during the previous campaign.

McAtee made 43 appearances and was directly involved in 13 goals for Sheffield United last season, as Paul Heckingbottom’s side achieved an automatic return to the Premier League and reached the Emirates FA Cup semi-finals.

Sheffield United were beaten 3-0 by Manchester City in the FA Cup clash at Wembley Stadium in April, with McAtee having started the Blades’ first five matches in the competition, but missing the semi-final due to FA rules.

The England Under-21 international had been tipped to remain at the Etihad Stadium for the new campaign, and scored during a pre-season friendly for Pep Guardiola’s side.

McAtee featured from the bench against Burnley on the opening weekend of the Premier League season for Manchester City, but was an unused substitute for the Sky Blues on four occasions.

The midfielder completed a Deadline Day return to Bramall Lane on a season-long loan, amid interest from a series of clubs across England and Europe.

Leicester City, Wolves, Brighton, Real Sociedad, Southampton, Celtic, Ajax and AZ Alkmaar were all linked with signing the 20-year-old during the summer transfer window.

The Foxes, who are managed by former Manchester City assistant manager Enzo Maresca, were reportedly close to agreeing a deal to sign McAtee themselves, prior to a late twist, according to Sheffield United chief executive Stephen Bettis.

“We tried, tried, tried, the window closed on Friday and Thursday lunchtime he was at Leicester,” the Blades CEO told Yorkshire Live.

“He and his agent are in a car ringing me saying ‘book us into a hotel, Stephen, because we are telling them he is coming to you and playing Premier League football. James wants to come to you’.

“When I came to the ground for the Everton match I was stopped about four times by fans asking ‘why didn’t you sign him before 12 noon?’. I was up until 1am sending Man City everything. It wasn’t done until 1.30pm.

“A lot was out of hands. We had done everything to get him in a couple of weeks before and did everything to get him signed for 12. It was so frustrating.”

McAtee was unavailable for the Blades’ draw against Everton on Saturday 2nd September, as Premier League rules stipulated that a transfer must be completed before noon on Friday 1st September.

The outlet report that Leicester City were close to signing the midfielder, with McAtee having to push for a return to Bramall Lane instead of moving to the King Power.

Manchester City reportedly believed that a move to the Midlands would be more ‘beneficial’ for the 20-year-old, with concern about McAtee’s development amid a predicted relegation battle in south Yorkshire.

Leicester have made an impressive start to the campaign, winning four of their opening five Championship matches.