Sander Berge: Sheffield United close to agreeing club-record deal for Genk midfielder

Norway international, 21, pictured next to Chris Wilder on Thursday; Blades also looking at Dutch striker Richairo Zivkovic and Greece international Panagiotis Retsos

Sander Berge played against Liverpool for Genk in the Champions League
Image: Sander Berge played against Liverpool for Genk in the Champions League

Sheffield United are close to agreeing a deal to sign Genk midfielder Sander Berge for a club-record fee.

The 21-year-old Norway international, regarded as one of the top young talents in Europe, was pictured next to Blades boss Chris Wilder on Thursday morning.

The 6ft 4in holding midfielder has scored four goals in 23 league appearances for the reigning Belgian champions this season, along with six outings in the Champions League.

Sheffield United target Sander Berge next to Blades boss Chris Wilder
Image: Berge next to Blades boss Chris Wilder (credit: HLN)

A host of Premier League clubs have been linked with Berge in recent months, including Tottenham, West Ham and Burnley.

The potential signing would be a major coup for Wilder who tried to land Berge last summer - with a fee potentially matching the club-record £20m paid to Swansea for Oli McBurnie in the summer.

"We're working away at a number of deals," said Wilder. "So a number of deals that we're close to getting over the line obviously will be presented at the time when everything's done, out of respect to the individual clubs that we're working with and obviously the individual players.

"I'm looking to get three in, three over the line and we're confident that we can do that. It is tough of course, we wouldn't expect it to be any different than what it is.

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Wilder remained tight-lipped on the imminent arrival of Berge after they were pictured together in Sheffield on Thursday morning

"I shouldn't be surprised actually that I'm getting up at the crack of dawn and going to bed in the early hours because that's the work that you have to do to make things happen and to improve your club in the window.

"Until those get done on the dotted line and everything's agreed through our club, through the selling/loaning club and the player then we're still working away."

Sheffield United and Genk have been locked in talks this week, as Berge handed in a transfer request on Tuesday with 18 months left on his contract at the Luminus Arena.

Berge and his agent Morten Wivestad met with senior Genk officials late on Tuesday to convince them to let the player leave, with the player subsequently jetting off to England for talks with Bramall Lane chiefs.

Last season, Berge played a crucial role in Genk's championship-winning season, securing the club's fourth Belgian Pro League title.

Another of Wilder's potential incomings is Dutch striker Richairo Zivkovic. The 23-year-old Changchun Yatai forward is expected to join on an initial loan, with final details of the move still to be agreed.

The Blades are also working on a deal to sign Bayer Leverkusen defender Panagiotis Retsos. The 21-year-old Greece international has made 27 Bundesliga appearances in the last three seasons.

'Real statement of intent'

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Sky Sports News' Tim Thornton breaks down the deal for Berge

Sky Sports News' Tim Thornton:

"Negotiations have been ongoing for a few days. It's been a difficult deal to get done. He's a highly-sought-after player with Champions League and Europa League experience. He's a player they have been tracking since the summer and he won't come cheap; it will be a club-record deal and it's a real statement of intent because he's one of the most sought-after young midfielders in Europe.

"We also expect the Richairo Zivkovic deal to get done. He was in Sheffield on Wednesday and the key to this one is that Wilder is looking to add some more pace to his attack. Lys Mousset is a player who stretches the defence but they don't really have an alternative so it's a change from the bench or an option if Mousset is not fit. It looks like being a loan deal."

How to follow the January transfer window with Sky Sports

Sky Sports will bring you the very latest news from the January transfer market with the return of three shows.

Start your day with Good Morning Transfers at 9am as our team of reporters bring you the latest news and insight. Transfer Talk then follows at midday delivering analysis of the biggest stories. Then join us at 7pm for the definitive round-up of the day's news with The Transfer Show.

Meanwhile, the Transfer Talk podcast will also be back at the turn of the year with more expert analysis from here and across the continent.

And as well as tuning into Sky Sports News, don't miss a thing with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.

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