When Sheffield United signed Sander Berge in January 2020, there was a huge wave of excitement around the whole of Bramall Lane. The Blades were riding high in the Premier League and had just broken their transfer record to land a highly-sought after Norwegian international.
Fast forward two years, and it’s safe to say that things haven’t quite gone as expected for Berge, United, or the supporters, a lot of who yearn to see the big midfielder dominate.
Berge has managed just 42 games in his time as a United player. Of course, a lot of that is not his fault. He’s had rotten luck with lockdowns, injuries, and other outside factors at the club. In fact, after the first lockdown, Berge actually looked a real star as United saw off the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham and Wolves.
But since then, it’s been a downward spiral for both Berge and United. And Saturday’s loss at Derby, in which Sander was given a rare start, was something of an eye opener.
Jostling For Position
Ever since he arrived, there’s been a debate about where Sander Berge best fits. Chris Wilder said at the time of his signing that he was a long-term replacement for Ollie Norwood. But that just hasn’t happened, and United look a worse team when Norwood isn’t in the XI.
Against Derby, in a midfield two, Berge and Norwood were on each others’ toes. Often less than 15 yards apart, there was little in the way of energy, intensity, and forward drive from the pair. On the surface, it looked like two players were trying to do the same job, at the same time.
This is an issue for Paul Heckingbottom to sort out. Many have suggested Sander would be better further forward. But when Morgan Gibbs-White returns, that means dropping either him or Iliman Ndiaye. The pair are United’s most threatening attacking players on a consistent basis. Moving one of them to make way for Berge, makes little sense.
Sheffield United To Cash In On Sander Berge?
The other option for United to look at when it comes to Berge is to seek a sale. Most Blades fans would admit they didn’t expect to see the Norwegian stay this summer. In fact, sources indicate the club fully expected to see Berge attract a heap of attention. So much so that United slapped a £35m price-tag on him. Nothing came of it, despite reports of interest from Italy, Arsenal, and Tottenham.
Six months on, and there’s no way United fetch £35m for Berge. However, is there a chance here for the Blades board to bite the bullet and cash in anyway? Sure, the fee would likely be less than the £22m originally paid. But if that money was given to Paul Heckingbottom to reinvest this month in key areas, then it could be worth it.
To put on record, we’d love Berge to succeed at Bramall Lane. On his day, he can be a dominant midfield presence. When he does drive forward with the ball, he can look unstoppable. He also seems a good character, something affirmed by Paul Heckingbottom this week.
“Sander has been fantastic. He’s had a tough time in terms of injury but he’s never been anything but determined to get into the Sheffield United team,” Hecky said.
But with money short, central midfield already stocked, and Berge’s value dipping by the month, a January sale might not be the worst idea in the world for Sheffield United.