Paul Heckingbottom says the departure of Sander Berge this summer is not a done deal and the midfielder remains contracted to Sheffield United.
Heckingbottom, who was placed in temporary charge when Chris Wilder was axed, knows his own uncertain position means he will have very little to do with Berge’s future. The 23-year-old midfielder has long since been linked with some of the Premier League’s big-time players. And with the Blades’ relegation now confirmed that talk is only likely to increase.
Still, the player, who cost United £22m from Genk 15 months ago, has not yet spoken about his future. It is obvious he will not be rubbing his hands at a drop down to the Championship. Heckingbottom though says a move away though is not inevitable.
Heckingbottom, via The Star said: “Sander hasn’t spoken about the future. If he is here, that will be out of my hands.
“But I’m expecting him (to remain with United), yes. He’s contracted to us, don’t forget that, and what a player he would be to help us get back.”
The Star claim both “Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have been encouraged to submit bids for his services”.
Reports last month claimed Liverpool are also ready to join the hunt for the powerful Norwegian.
Berge is very well known to Jurgen Klopp and has been aware of his talents for some time. Indeed, Liverpool were strongly linked to Berge prior to his move to Bramall Lane. That was after the Reds’ Champions League battles with his former club, Genk.
And following the November 2019 clash, Klopp was reported to have held an intriguing chat with Berge.
“You are an interesting player, a very interesting player,” Klopp was reported to have said.
Berge refused to reveal exactly what the German had said to him, however.
“It was a great moment. It is nice. You take it with a smart smile. It is nice that such a reputable trainer comes away and says something like that,” said Berge.
‘It might not be up to us’
According to Voetbal24, Berge is also being eyed by Manchester City. They claim Pep Guardiola has earmarked the player as a long-term replacement for Fernandinho. The Brazilian star – a mainstay of the City midfield – is being tipped to depart this summer.
The Belgian outlet claim the Blades are looking for around £30m for Berge. With 20% of that due to Genk via a sell-on clause.
Berge though has been missing since December after suffering a hamstring injury against Manchester United.
“The only thing Sander is bothered about at the moment is getting fit, that’s what’s driving him on,” Heckingbottom said. “He’s had a good 10 days or so (of training) now and is getting better and better. It’s just a case of building him up.
“It might not be up to us, what happens, and it might not even be up to him,” Heckingbottom added. “What I do know, having worked with him, is that he’s a really top player and a very driven one too. Don’t be confused by his nice smile and personality. He wants to be the very best player he can be.”
Berge will not be fit to face Brighton on Saturday night, but could return next month.