The big decision Sheffield United took to snare Sander Berge

Sheffield United redrafted Chris Wilder’s transfer budget after learning Sander Berge, their record transfer signing, was determined to push through a move to Bramall Lane, it has emerged.

Thursday, 13th February 2020, 5:55 am

Berge, aged 21, became the most expensive player in the Premier League club’s history when he completed his £22m switch from Genk last month.

The Star understands the fee United paid the Belgians was around two-and-a-half times more than the amount initially placed at Wilder’s disposal ahead of the recent window.

But chief executive Steve Bettis, detailing Berge’s journey to South Yorkshire, acknowledged the deal had been made possible when United’s owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud agreed to make more funding available.

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The Saudi Arabian is known to have personally championed the midfielder’s talents when Wilder first expressed an interest in acquiring his services following United’s promotion from the Championship.

“We had a budget for the January window excluding Sander,” Bettis said. “But when the Sander opportunity happened, Prince Abdullah was extremely keen for us to pursue that.

“It was separate from what else we were trying to do.”

Berge, capped 20 times by Norway, has started both of United’s games since leaving the Luminus Arena; with Sunday’s victory over AFC Bournemouth lifting them to fifth in the table.

Sheffield United's manager Chris Wilder and chief executive Steve Bettis (R): Scott Merrylees

Wilder and his squad are scheduled to spend the rest of the week in Dubai, before returning to England to finalise their preparations for February 22nd’s meeting with Brighton and Hove Albion.

Confirming Berge had also been courted by a number of clubs, thought to include Napoli, during his negotiations with United, Bettis said: “Sander was looked at by us in the summer originally and it was something that didn’t happen, but he was still on our radar to potentially look at in this window.

“It’s public knowledge there was other interest in Sander and potentially we caught them on the hop because a lot of them were thinking they’d do it in the summer when he had 12 months left on his contract (at Genk).”

“We got him early,” Bettis added. “That caught a few off guard I think.”

Sander Berge of Sheffield United joined the club in a record breaking deal from Genk: Simon Bellis/Sportimage