Sander Berge: Sheffield United tell Arsenal compromise they might be prepared to make
Sheffield United could be forced to reconsider the structure of Arsenal’s proposed deal for Sander Berge, but officials at Bramall Lane are refusing to lower their valuation of the Norway international.
After outlining his ambition to play Champions League football again, Berge is expected to leave Bramall Lane this summer following United’s relegation to the Championship with Mikel Arteta’s side so far leading the race for the midfielder’s signature.
However both the size of the fee being demanded and manner in which Bramall Lane’s hierarchy want it to be paid are proving a difficult obstacle for those tasked with laying the groundwork for official talks to overcome.
United have so far declined permission for those acting on their behalf to discuss the possibility of reducing their £35m asking price with representatives from north London. But, in order to prevent the issue from overshadowing their preparations for the new season, United could relax the demand that the majority of that money is paid up front - with Arsenal preferring to spread any fee over the course of the long-term contract Berge would be handed at the Emirates Stadium.
With their broadcasting and sponsorship income set to sharply decline, United are reluctant to broker a compromise which would limit new manager Slavisa Jokanovic’s ability to strengthen his squad.
But they could be tempted to soften their stance if Arsenal agree to reduce - or remove altogether - any performance related clauses which might prove impossible to trigger.
Although The Star understands no direct talks between the two clubs have yet taken place, a back channel line of communication between United and Arsenal has been open ever since Arteta was invited to bid for Berge.
Tottenham Hotspur were also sounded-out, when it became clear the player was likely to move on following 17 months in South Yorkshire. But Arsenal, who first began monitoring Berge in January, showed the greatest interest - despite indicating they felt the 23-year-old was over-valued.
United paid £22m to sign Berge from Genk, with the Belgians forced to accept a lower fee after he indicated he had no intention of extending his contract.