Sander Berge: Why Napoli and Arsenal are convinced Sheffield United will be forced to concede ground in transfer battle
Napoli believe Sheffield United will be forced to compromise over their asking price for Sander Berge, as officials at the Serie A club refuse to withdraw their interest in the midfielder.
Officials at the San Paolo first made a move for Berge last week, with reports in Italy now suggesting that head coach Luciano Spalletti has approved sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli’s bid to try and recruit the 23-year-old.
Although Napoli’s approach came via an intermediary - direct contact between the two sides has yet to be established - they made it clear they had no intention of meeting United’s £35m valuation of a player signed for £22m only 17 months ago.
United are convinced their figure accurately reflects Berge’s worth, given that he told Genk he had no intention of agreeing a new contract before heading to England.
But Napoli, who were also monitoring his situation at the Luminus Arena before United took advantage of their procrastination, calculate football’s depressed economy following the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with United’s relegation from the Premier League, means they will eventually be forced to the negotiating table.
Arsenal, Berge’s most persistent admirers, have arrived at the same conclusion; not least because United will want to raise funds for Slavisa Jokanovic to spend when he takes charge next week.
Bramall Lane’s hierarchy have so far refused to budge. However, sources with knowledge of the transfer market last night told The Star they could concede ground on a demand the majority of the money they want for Berge is paid up front.
Despite being briefed on the Norway international’s situation before agreeing to take charge, Jokanovic plans to hold talks with both him and his agent to try and discover how they will react if the saga continues to drag on.
Berge is scheduled to report back for pre-season training with the rest of United’s squad, with Jokanovic set to arrive on Thursday - 24 hours after his contract with Qatari club Al-Gharafa expires.
Jokanovic is set to be joined in South Yorkshire by two handpicked additions to his coaching staff, having agreed to work with the remainder of those hired by his predecessor Chris Wilder.