The advice Sheffield United took before completing record-breaking Sander Berge deal
Chris Wilder has revealed he consulted Jan Aage Fjortoft, the former Sheffield United and Norway centre-forward, before signing his compatriot Sander Berge.
Berge became the most expensive player in United’s history when he completed a £22m move from Belgian club Genk during the transfer window.
Although Wilder and his coaching staff had already researched the midfielder, having first made an approach last summer, the 52-year-old confirmed the opinions of Fjortoft and others with a knowledge of Berge’s qualities before completing the record breaking deal.
“A lot of thought goes into it, a lot of watching and networking, talking to people,” Wilder said, detailing how United identify their recruitment targets. “We knew about Sander, but Jan Aage (Fjortoft), who came to visit us last month is very influential in Norwegian football and we know a lot of people in the game here and abroad.
“That doesn't make the final decision for us but the background work that goes into it is key.”
With an array of information available about Berge’s footballing attributes, Wilder’s decision to seek Fjortoft’s counsel almost certainly formed part of a drive to understand the youngster’s character. The United manager has spoken in the past about the importance of creating the right chemistry in the dressing room, and is known to be a keen student of how different personalities can be blended together to form a cohesive group.
Berge, aged 21, made his second appearance for United when AFC Bournemouth were beaten 2-1 at Bramall Lane last weekend. Capped 20 times by his country, Berge is again expected to feature when Wilder’s side, who are fifth in the Premier League table, return to action against Brighton and Hove Albion later this month.