Chris Wilder flew to watch Sander Berge in person before paying record £22m fee
Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

Chris Wilder flew to watch Sander Berge in person before paying record £22m fee

Chris Wilder made sure he watched Sander Berge play live before Sheffield United paid a club record £22m (BBC Sport) fee for the midfielder.

Berge signed for the Blades on January 30 from Genk and went straight into their starting XI two days later. The 21-year-old impressed during the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace that moved his new side up to sixth in the Premier League.

United had their eye on Berge for some time. There were attempts made to try and bring the Norway international to Bramall Lane in the summer.

Yet, at the time, Berge was understandably wary about joining a newly promoted club. After all, the South Yorkshire side had not played in the top flight of English football for 12 years and many people were predicting them to go straight back down.

Relegation now looks highly unlikely, with their current position in the table more conducive with European qualification. This impressive first campaign in the Premier League convinced Berge to join Wilder’s side.

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When did Chris Wilder watch Sander Berge?

(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

In a behind-the-scenes video filmed by the club, Wilder meets Berge on the day he signed for the Blades. It begins in a hotel, before moving onto his medical and later the drive to the training ground to meet his new teammates.

It is during this latter part that Wilder reveals to Berge that he and his staff had flown to Scandinavia to watch him play live.

With domestic commitments, this would usually have been tricky for the 52-year-old. However, despite his age, Berge is a senior international with 20 caps for his country.

So when league action took a break for international fixtures, Wilder was able to take advantage. Rather than enjoying some time off, he travelled to Stockholm to watch Sweden v Norway in their Euro 2020 qualifier.

It finished 1-1, with Berge playing the full 90 minutes. It also took place at the beginning of September, showing just how long United had been tracking the midfield ace.

Wilder then says that his assistant, Alan Knill, went to Oslo in December to watch Berge play against Spain. Again, he played the whole match in a 1-1 draw.

Berge jokes that he could be up against some of his new teammates in March’s playoffs for Euro 2020. Norway face Serbia, but if they are victorious they will then play the winner of Scotland v Israel for a place at the tournament.

John Fleck and Oli McBurnie are both Scotland internationals.

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