After initially struggling to adjust to the intensity of English football following a £22m move from Genk, the Norway international produced a series of exceptional displays towards the end of last season as Paul Heckingbottom’s side climbed from 16th to fifth in the Championship table.
Although they eventually failed to regain their Premier League status, losing to Nottingham Forest on penalties in the play-off semi-finals, the United manager and his assistants hope Berge will decide to continue his career in South Yorkshire as they plot a return to the top-flight.
Napoli, Newcastle and Arsenal have all been linked with the 24-year-old since United slipped back into the second tier. However, although the Londoners are understood to have considered submitting a concrete bid after being approached by someone purporting to be acting on his behalf, they eventually decided to pursue other targets instead.
Berge is among a number of first team squad members whose futures have been plunged into doubt by United’s defeat at the City Ground. Morgan Gibbs-White, acquired on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, is expected to officially confirm he will not be returning soon while Croatia’s Filip Uremovic, who suspended his contract with Rubin Kazan following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, could prove beyond United’s financial reach if he is allowed to sever his ties with Leonid Slutsky’s side.
Heckingbottom is expected to speak with Uremovic and goalkeeper Adam Davies, whose short term deal contains a 12 month extension clause, over the coming days. But he will also hold talks with Berge, outlining how United will attempt to gain promotion when they return to competitive action.
After exiting the PL, Heckingbottom’s employers slapped a reported £35m price tag on Berge’s head. Despite suspicions they would not have attempted to stand in his way had someone come close to either matching that valuation or offering United a return on their initial investment, Heckingbottom’s predecessor Slavisa Jokanovic made no secret of the fact he wanted to retain the midfielder’s services.
With Gibbs-White set to depart, Heckingbottom is keen to avoid losing another important cog in United’ engine room, with Berge forming a prolific partnership with the England under-21 international and youngster Iliman Ndiaye after being deployed in a more advanced role.
As well as outlining his ambitions to Berge, Davies and Uremovic - a long-standing target for United before events in eastern Europe facilitated his arrival - Heckingbottom is also set to hold further discussions with Conor Hourihane and Ben Davies to discover their thoughts for the campaign ahead.
Hourihane, who will shortly leave Aston Villa, recently stated he would be open to the idea of entering into a permanent arrangement with United after joining them on a temporary basis last year. However, after failing to command a regular place in Heckingbottom’s starting eleven, he could be tempted to explore other options in order to cement his place in the Republic of Ireland squad. Davies, on loan from Liverpool, also finished the season on the bench but proved his worth on a number of occasions despite a series of personal and fitness issues.