Sander Berge: The tactics Napoli will employ in the battle for Sheffield United's Sander Berge
Napoli will continue to monitor Sander Berge’s position with Sheffield United, despite making it clear they have no intention of meeting the asking price officials at Bramall Lane have placed on the midfielder.
The Italians joined Arsenal in the battle for Berge’s services last week, 17 months after he opted for a move to United rather than the Italians following three years with Genk.
As The Star revealed last month, United are demanding £35m for the Norway international, who is expected to depart following their relegation from the Premier League.
Reports emerging from Campania suggest Napoli have no intention of paying such a fee. But with Berge admitting he wants to play European football again after representing the Belgians in both the Champions and Europa leagues, they believe United will be forced to the negotiating table if the player begins to agitate for a move.
Although there is no suggestion that will happen, with Berge and his representative apparently content to sit back and see what happens over the coming weeks, the 23-year-old’s attitude could change if he is still in South Yorkshire towards the end of the transfer window.
Arsenal have adopted a similar stance to the one taken by Napoli’s sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli; the man responsible for driving their interest in Berge rather than their new manager Luciano Spalletti.
After being contacted by an agent acting on behalf of United towards the end of last term, who encouraged both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur to submit bids, Mikel Arteta’s employers have so far resisted the temptation to make an official approach. Like Giuntoli, they are convinced United will eventually be forced to accept a figure closer to the £22m they paid to acquire him midway through last term.
United, who have so far shown no indication of softening their approach, are convinced they are justified in claiming Berge’s worth has soared during his spell in England - citing his length of contract, the fact Genk were forced to sell because he had entered the closing stages of his deal there and experience of competing in one of the world’s most prestigious competitions as factors.