Chris Wilder has praised Sander Berge after he came off the bench for Sheffield United during the FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Arsenal.
Berge became the club’s record signing during the January transfer window after joining from Genk in a £22m deal (BBC Sport).
Since then the 22-year-old has played nine times for the Blades, primarily on the right-hand side of a three-man central midfield.
Usually considered a defensive midfielder, this more attacking role is something Berge is having to adapt to.
The Norway international hasn’t always looked comfortable in the position. However, he was more settled in the second half against the Gunners.
Berge replaced John Lundstram after he was forced off through injury and played well.
“I’m slowly getting there. I haven’t really been my best in that position and I’m slowly adapting to it,” the Norwegian told BBC Radio Sheffield after the game.
“I’ve got a chance now to come in. There’s a lot to improve for me and I’ll suit that role over time.”
What is the future for Sander Berge at Sheffield United?
Wilder clearly has great faith in Berge; which shouldn’t be surprising considering how much money was spent on him.
Yet while the midfielder has mainly been flanking the deep-lying Oliver Norwood on the pitch, that could change in the future.
“Sander is going to be a really good player for us. He’s 21 [sic], we paid decent money for him,” Wilder told BBC Radio Sheffield.
“£20m is not an unbelievable number. It is for Sheffield United, I understand that. So Sander comes with that pressure.
“But he’s a grounded boy and he’ll eventually play as a sitting midfield player. He’s a proper midfield player, he’s a really good kid and he always will get mine and the boys’ full backing.”
Wilder suggests that Berge will play in his preferred role in front of the defence at some point. Whether that means replacing Norwood, or a tactical switch, remains to be seen.
What is clear, though, is that Berge is someone who has a big future at Bramall Lane. It’s important to remember he is young, has moved to a new country and has had his start to life in England disrupted by a global pandemic.
Wilder should be trusted in his judgement. It will now be interesting to see just where Berge will be playing as time progresses.