Newcastle, recently purchased by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, are reportedly interested in acquiring Berge’s services when the market reopens although a concrete offer has yet to materialise.
If officials in the North-East decide to lodge a formal offer, then United will find it almost impossible to keep the 23-year-old out of their clutches given the financial resources at the Premier League club’s disposal.
However, should Eddie Howe’s employers elect to keep their pursuit more low key - potentially trying to destabilise Berge’s position in South Yorkshire - then United’s response is likely to include inviting other top-flight teams both at home and abroad to submit bids.
Either way, their strategy regarding Berge will depend on whether or not he remains committed to helping Paul Heckingbottom’s side try and win promotion from the Championship. After making a slow start to the season under his predecessor Slavisa Jokanovic, United had been set to enter today’s game at Preston North End hoping to record their fifth straight win before the match at Deepdale was postponed because of a Covid-19 outbreak within Ryan Lowe’s squad.
Berge became the most expensive purchase in United’s history when he completed a £22m move from Genk 23 months ago. However he has spent long periods on the treatment table, and appeared destined to leave following last season’s relegation.
Both Napoli and Arsenal, who eventually signed United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, were both approached about the possibility of hiring Berge but refused to meet the asking price. A third party broker, whose services have since been terminated, also tried to tempt Tottenham Hotspur to enter the race without success.
Berge has made 39 appearances for United, nine of which have come from the bench, since moving to England. He marked his return to fitness with a cameo from the bench during their win over Fulham a week ago, after spending nearly a month recovering from injury.