Sources at Bramall Lane last night reported no discussions have taken place between United and their Yorkshire neighbours aimed at delivering Berge to Elland Road, following last week’s reports that he features on Jesse Marsch’s wanted list.
Although United are aware agents acting on the Norway international’s behalf are actively attempting to place him elsewhere following last season’s defeat in the Championship play-off semi-finals, they are yet to receive any approaches for a player signed in a £22m deal two years ago.
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Previously of Genk, Berge was one of Paul Heckingbottom’s most influential performers during the second half of the campaign. But doubts remain about his consistency, with a decision to deploy him in a more advanced role triggering an upturn in form following a disappointing start before Christmas.
United placed a release clause, known to be set at £45m, into the contract they agreed with Berge after bringing him to South Yorkshire during Chris Wilder’s reign. This was reduced by £10m when they relinquished the Premier League status they had achieved under Heckingbottom’s predecessor, meaning potential suitors could be forced to pay £35m to capture the 24-year-old.
However, providing they can make what has been described as a “meaningful return” on their investment, United are unlikely to demand the full amount they are entitled to. Berge, who has scored six times in his last 40 appearances for club and country, is one of the highest earners in a squad Heckingbottom is attempting to reprofile this summer with a centre-half and replacement for ex-loanee Morgan Gibbs-White among his top priorities.
Heckingbottom could be handed the chance to recruit Leeds defender Charlie Cresswell on a temporary basis as he looks to bolster his rearguard after the youngster revealed he plans to speak with Marsch about his short term future in West Yorkshire.
Gibbs-White’s team mate at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Dion Sanderson, is known to boast admirers among United’s backroom staff while chief executive Steve Bettis has confirmed talks are talking place with an unnamed free agent.