Sheffield United preparing bid for Hearts skipper

Marius Zaliukas

Marius Zaliukas

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SHEFFIELD UNITED have contacted Hearts inquiring about captain Marius Zaliukas and will consider submitting a £500,000 transfer offer for the Lithuanian if they secure promotion to the English Championship this weekend.

Danny Wilson, manager of the Yorkshire club, wants to recruit a new centre-back for next season and is currently exploring the Scottish market. United officials have asked Hearts about Zaliukas’ availability, however any move would depend on them winning Saturday’s League One play-off final against Huddersfield.

The Edinburgh club will consider any reasonable offer for their skipper, who is one of their highest earners. They could demand upwards of £750,000 for the 28-year-old Zaliukas, who has six years’ experience in the Scottish Premier League, whereas the Blades value him in the £500,000 bracket.

Zaliukas lifted his first trophy as Tynecastle captain at Hampden Park on Saturday as Hearts beat Hibs 5-1 in the all-Edinburgh Scottish Cup final. His profile has risen considerably since he was appointed club skipper in July 2010 and he would be interested in moving to England if the right opportunity arose.

Wilson believes his central defence must be improved if Sheffield United find themselves playing in the Championship next year. He feels recruiting from Scotland could offer value for money, although the wage budget at Bramall Lane will remain tight regardless of the play-off final outcome.

If United can negotiate their way past Huddersfield and into the Championship, their interest in Zaliukas is expected to intensify.

Hearts defender Danny Grainger, meantime, is set to undergo surgery on a long-term groin problem later this week.