Sheffield United: Slavisa Jokanovic wants Sander Berge to stay as he also addresses Aaron Ramsdale's future
Slavisa Jokanovic has revealed he will try and persuade Sander Berge to remain with Sheffield United next term, after admitting he has “no plans” to lose goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale who is also a target for Arsenal.
Speaking publicly for the first time since officially taking charge at Bramall Lane, the Serb admitted he plans to “refresh” a squad which was relegated from the Premier League last season.
Jokanovic appeared to acknowledge that Berge’s future at the club is in doubt amid interest from Napoli and Arsenal. But like Ramsdale - another target for Mikel Arteta’s side - he will seek to convince the midfielder his career will be best served by remaining in South Yorkshire next term.
“I never expect players to leave,” Jokanovic said. “I know there is talk about two and they are two of my best players. So of course I don’t want to see them go.
“I am aware of the situation with one (Berge). I am aware of the possibilities that are out there. But him, the Norwegian guy, I also know the qualities he has got and hot good he can be for us next season.
“So when I have the chance to meet him, to sit down with him, I will try and make him stay here with us. I will try and make him stay because of his qualities and his ability. which would be very good for us to have going forward.”
Although Berge is understood to be minded to move on, only 18 months after completing a £22m ove from Genk, sources close to Ramsdale insist he is happy to try and help United return to the top-flight at the first attempt. Currently on European Championship duty with England, the 23-year-old is expected to be the subject of a multi-million pound bid from the Emirates Stadium when the competition concludes.
“I have one of the best ‘keepers in England,” said Jokanovic, who acknowledged defender Jack O’Connell is unlikely to be fit for the start of the new campaign as he continues to recover from a serious knee injury. “So I want one of the best ones to be here with us. Again, I will have the chance to it down with them and that’s what I will say.
"They are two of my best players, as I say, and so I always want my best players to be here with me. I haven’t had the chance yet but, when I do, I will sit down with both of them and let them know what my feelings are. I will tell the same as I have just told you.”
Jokanovic, who hopes to make two additions to his coaching staff next week, was informed that another centre-half - Kean Bryan - has yet to accept United’s offer of a new contract. Although Bryan has not rejected it either, he is unable to train with United at present for insurance reasons.
Bryan’s previous deal with United expired earlier this week, but he was informed at the end of last season that United want him to agree another.