The Star revealed earlier this week that no approach has been made by Leeds for the 24-year-old, despite reports claiming they want to lure him to Elland Road. Although the situation could quickly change, as his representatives continue to investigate lines of enquiry in the transfer market, sources close to United last night insisted Berge has yet to attract a bid from a rival club - raising the possibility he could start the new season in South Yorkshire.
Speaking following United’s defeat in the Championship play-off semi-finals last term, manager Paul Heckingbottom appeared to admit the midfielder’s future was uncertain because of his desire to compete at the highest level possible. Soon after, a figure close to their board of directors also confirmed United’s hierarchy were “aware” that “some people” close to Berge had started to make discreet approaches to potential buyers aimed at discovering if they were interested in acquiring his services.
“They’re being busy,” The Star was told, during a private briefing. “We know what’s happening and, to some extent, we expected it because Sander is clearly highly talented.”
However, United are still known to have been irritated by Stale Solbakken’s claim that Berge is “too good” for second tier football ahead of a recent round of Nations League games. They suspect those comments, made by the Norwegian’s head coach, formed part of a campaign to pressure them into selling Berge this summer.
Signed for a £22m fee in January 2020, the exit clause inserted into the contract he signed after leaving Genk now stands at £35m. United are happy to keep Berge, with chief executive Steve Bettis recently insisting they are under no financial pressure to do a deal because of salary reductions written into their squad’s agreements which kicked in when they failed to gain promotion. Neither does Heckingbottom have any concerns about Berge’s professionalism going forward should he remain in situ, praiding Berge’s “excellent attitude” ahead of United’s loss on penalties to Nottingham Forest.
Heckingbottom’s side returned to training this week, although Berge and others called-up by their respective countries during the international window have been granted extra time off.
Daniel Jebbison, United’s teenage striker, is also absent having been selected by England for the under-19 UEFA Championships, which are currently taking place in Slovakia. He was an unused substitute during Sunday’s group stage win over Austria but will hope to feature when the Young Lions face Serbia tonight.
Having yet to make any new signings, Heckingbottom would prefer to know whether Berge will be staying put as quickly as possible. United are holding talks with at least two possible acquisitions, one of whom would command a fee. However with a heavy emphasis again being placed on loans from the PL, Bettis has warned they could be forced to wait until the closing stages of the window before completing their business.