The state of play with Sheffield United and Sander Berge

Sheffield United still expect Sander Berge to leave Bramall Lane this summer, despite waiting to receive an official bid for the Norway international.

Saturday, 12th June 2021, 6:00 am

Officials at the Championship club have invited offers of at least £35m for Berge, with Arsenal so far expressing the greatest interest.

However, United’s refusal to lower their valuation of a player they signed for £22m only 17 months ago has slowed the negotiation process. Likewise their demand for the proposed deal to be ‘front loaded’ - meaning the majority of the money must be paid up front - rather than being spread over the course of what would probably be at least a four year contract.

With Berge recently expressing his desire to play Champions League football again after representing Genk in the competition before moving to England, United resigned themselves to losing the 23-year-old after being relegated from the Premier League last season.

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SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Sander Berge of Sheffield United battles for possession with Mateusz Klich of Leeds United during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Leeds United at Bramall Lane on September 27, 2020 in Sheffield, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

As well as Mikel Arteta’s side, Tottenham Hotspur were also invited to open talks about acquiring his services. But, unlike their north London rivals, officials there are thought to have decided against pursuing an interest in a player who has been capped 24 times by his country.

With Berge’s former team mate John Lundstram also electing to move on following United’s demotion, new manager Slavisa Jokanovic has made midfield a priority position during this summer’s transfer window as he looks to construct a squad capable of making an immediate return to the top-flight.

Tom Cairney, who worked with Jokanovic at Fulham, has attracted admiring glances from South Yorkshire. But the £10m Cairney’s employers are demanding means they accept a deal is unlikely - albeit not impossible - as United’s owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his board of directors look to protect United’s financial position following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Berge is also thought to boast a number of potential suitors abroad, having been courted by Napoli before leaving Belgium.

Jokanovic will start work at United next month, when his agreement with Qatari club Al-Gharafa expires. He replaced Chris Wilder at the helm, following the 53-year-old’s departure in March.