It is fair to say that Rhian Brewster has not had a sterling start to his career at Sheffield United. The Blades have had a difficult time of it this season, struggling primarily for goals after laying siege to the European places and taking the Premier League by storm last campaign.
Reacting to early warnings after a scoreless first three games of the season, then-manager Chris Wilder sanctioned a club-record £23.5m to sign a player he labeled as “one of the country’s hottest properties” in Liverpool’s Brewster. So confident was Wilder in the Red academy graduate’s ability to take his side to the next level, that he even agreed to a Liverpool buy-back option in addition to 15% sell-on fee.
It is all fallen apart however, as a horror show of a season has seen the top half hopefuls now almost guaranteed relegation, a doom rooted primarily in a historically-catastrophic attack that is only putting the ball in the net once every other game.
Brewster’s own form has suffered as a result. After lighting up the Championship in front of goal on loan with Swansea City last year, the 20-year-old has struggled to take the step up to the top flight, failing to score in 23 outings so far this term while playing in a squad seemingly incapable of providing him with opportunities as a center forward.
Wilder, one of England’s most successful managers in recent memory, has been the casualty of the disaster of a season, leaving the club by mutual consent earlier this month. Amongst the many documented disagreements between the manager and club was transfer policy, with the move for Brewster ultimately becoming a particularly notable flashpoint.
Sheffield owner, Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia recently opened up to Sky Sports to explain the transfer conflicts that led to Wilder’s departure:
“We have invested a lot in the club, but we don’t have unlimited resources, so if we invest £120 million, you better get £120 million value,” he said.
“I told Chris I will not accept in the future, say that you want [summer goalkeeper signing, Aaron] Ramsdale, to come to me with one option, only Ramsdale because that puts us in a weak position.
“The other club will know you only have one option.
The prince went on to talk about the process around the Brewster signing:
“It also didn’t help that with Brewster that Chris talked about him before we even signed him,” the Saudi businessman continued.
“I thought and Stephen thought we maybe could have got him on loan and if we had stayed in the Premier League, we would be obliged to buy him.
“I wanted him to give me four or five targets and give me room to negotiate with the other clubs and room to bring in any of the five. I needed recruitment to change, and for Chris to be more open minded.
“When it comes to recruitment it can’t be my way or the highway every time, only this player or nobody else. We need to have more options then it puts us in a better negotiating position.”
Brewster is clearly short on confidence, stuck on a team not in a position to help him succeed, and in the middle of a messy situation with the club. However, at still only 20 years of age, the youngster has time on his side to come good on the promise that saw him shine on England youth teams alongside the likes of Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
The hope for him will be that another year in the Championship or a move to a club better suited to his talents will help him rebound next season.