Sheffield United: The thinking behind Sander Berge transfer decision

Sheffield United believe the £35m asking price they claim to have slapped on Sander Berge reflects the midfielder’s true worth, claiming the price they acquired him for undervalued his talent.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 4:15 pm

Only 17 months after signing Berge for £22m, transfer negotiators acting on United’s behalf have told Arsenal it will cost them £13m more to take the Norway international to the Emirates Stadium after Mikel Arteta expressed an interest.

Although The Star understands official talks between the two clubs about Berge are yet to take place, it has been established through a back-channel line of communication that the Londoners believe United are demanding too much for a player who has less than 30 Premier League appearances on his CV and only recently recovered from a serious hamstring injury.

However, with Berge confirming his fitness towards the end of a season which saw them relegated from the Premier League, an intermediary acting on United’s behalf has argued the commitment they are demanding before granting Berge permission to explore a move to north London reflects how much he would have cost after leaving Genk had his contract there not been approaching its expiry date.

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United fended-off competition from Napoli before unveiling Berge in January last year, and were able to persuade the Belgians to accept a reduced fee because he had made it clear he would not be extending his deal at the Luminus Arena. The Italians have also reportedly resurrected their interest.

United’s negotiating position has been strengthened by the fact Berge is tied to them until 2024. However, Arsenal believe they have a number of weapons they can use to try and broker a compromise. Having spoken of his desire to compete in the Champions League again after representing Genk in the tournament, Berge is unlikely to welcome the prospect of playing in the second tier next term - despite Slavisa Jokanovic’s imminent arrival as manager. With Arteta also reportedly monitoring United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, who is currently on duty with England at Euro 2020, Arsenal could also propose packing the two moves together - in the hope that the promise of receiving a bigger original lump sum might persuade United to compromise.

Arsenal's Spanish manager Mikel Arteta: PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Sander Berge of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/ Sportimage