Sheffield United chief executive Stephen Bettis has publicly revealed how the signing of Manchester City youngster James McAtee came about which includes a brutal rejection of Leicester City.
McAtee spent all of last season at Bramall Lane under head coach Paul Heckingbottom as the Blades gained automatic promotion to the Premier League by finishing second in the Championship with 91 points, ten behind title-winners Burnley.
The midfielder was a key player for Sheffield United and scored nine goals in 37 appearances in England’s second-tier but it looked as though recently-relegated side Leicester City were the favourites to secure his services on loan for the 2023/24 season.
In fact, Bettis admitted that at lunchtime on Thursday, McAtee was in Leicester with his agent but had his mind set on playing football in the top flight.
“We tried, tried, tried. The window closed on Friday and Thursday lunchtime he was at Leicester.
“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.”
McAtee eventually signed for the Blades for another season on transfer deadline day last Friday as the exciting young talent rejected the Foxes with just a few hours remaining in the window.
It’s hard to blame McAtee for preferring a return to Bramall Lane after such a successful loan spell last term, especially now that Sheffield United were playing Premier League football.
However, Leicester City can certainly feel hard done by given that the player was with the club just 24 hours before the transfer window closed.