Sheffield United set to hand Arsenal and Napoli an ultimatum about Sander Berge
Sheffield United are ready to hand Arsenal and Napoli an ultimatum, telling them to meet their valuation of midfielder Sander Berge or forget about signing the Norway international.
If the message is relayed to officials in north London and Campania, it could prove to be a pivotal moment in the midfielder’s career - forcing his representatives to either begin agitating for a move away from South Yorkshire or accept their client could start the new campaign at Bramall Lane.
Despite refusing to explicitly state he wants to leave, Berge is understood to be keen on finding another club following United’s relegation from the Premier League last season.
But his employers’ refusal to so far accept anything less than the £35m they believe the 23-year-old is worth has frustrated both Mikel Arteta and Cristiano Giuntoli; the Neapolitan’s sporting director who is responsible for bringing new talent to the San Paolo.
Sources at United have told The Star that rather than continue to allow the uncertainty surrounding Berge’s future overshadow new manager Slavisa Jokanovic’s preparations for the forthcoming campaign, the club’s hierarchy will use a go-between to tell the player’s suitors to submit “serious” offers or move on to fresh targets.
Although that will not dissuade Arsenal and Napoli from continuing to try and unsettle both Berge and United by drip feeding details of their interest into the media, it is designed to be a signal that owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Jan van Winckel, his de facto director of football, are determined not to compromise over a fee.
Berge cost £22m when he joined United from Genk 17 months ago, but Prince Abdullah and van Winckel - who was instrumental in bringing him to England - are convinced his contractual situation at the Luminus Arena meant the fee did not reflect either his true worth or potential.
In reality, both Arsenal and Napoli will continue to play a waiting game in the battle for Berge. Aston Villa, who are also thought to be monitoring his situation at United, have also resolved to wait and see how the saga unfolds before showing their hand.