Arsenal could face a tricky battle to sign Sheffield United midfielder Sander Berge ahead of next season, with the Blades prepared to make life difficult for the Gunners in the coming months, according to reports. Berge has recently been linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium as Mikel Arteta looks to lead a summer of change in north London.
The 23-year-old has established himself as one of United’s best players despite missing the vast majority of this season with an injury.
He is reportedly on Arsenal’s radar ahead of the summer months, with Arteta eager to strengthen in the middle of the park after the departures of loanee pair Dani Ceballos and Martin Odegaard.
The Gunners are said to have already seen a bid in the region of £17.2million rejected by the Yorkshire club, suggesting that they will need to part ways with a sizable fee in order to test United’s resolve.
However, it seems as though Arsenal are not yet prepared to give up the fight as they continue to weigh up their options ahead of the new campaign.
The north London club are still interested in Berge, but will need to successfully deal with three obstacles in order to push a summer move over the line, according to the Sheffield Star.
JUST IN: Arsenal told to pay ‘record’ fee for Buendia but it’s not bad news
Arsenal’s first problem will be the transfer fee required to sign the midfielder, with United said to be adamant that they will not reduce their £35m asking price.
Berge was signed from Genk to the tune of £22m last January, but the Bramall Lane club are reported to have told Arsenal they only managed to secure his services for a cut-price fee as a result of his contract situation in Belgium.
The midfielder is now tied down until 2024, which is another issue that could prove to be difficult for the Gunners in their bid to secure his signature.
The long-term nature of his contract suggests that Arsenal will be forced to submit a highly attractive offer in order to stand any chance of bringing Berge to the capital.
He has also settled down in England and is suited to the British game, two factors that United believe will provide them with the upper hand in negotiations.
It is claimed that incoming United manager Slavisa Jokanovic has already been briefed on the player’s situation as he prepares to take charge in time for next season.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Arsenal will bow to the Championship-bound club’s demands, as they are said to have other irons in the fire.
Brighton and Hove Albion’s Yves Bissouma is said to be a prime target, while Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria and Sevilla’s Joan Jordan have also been mentioned in connection with the Gunners as of late.
Former Norway international Erik Thorstvedt recently suggested that Berge would jump at the chance to join Arsenal, suggesting that his compatriot boasts the winning mentality required to thrive at a top Premier League club.
“He has bigger ambitions, and I think bigger clubs are interested in him,” Thorstvedt told TV2.
“Arsenal’s assistant coach [Albert Stuivenberg] was working in Genk in Belgium when Berge was picked up from Valerenga, and I know he likes Sander Berge.
“It isn’t impossible to get that type of club and I think [Arsenal] is of the magnitude he wants. It will be very exciting to see where he ends up because he has gained a very good reputation in England.”