Identifying their midfield as a key area to reinforce, Burnley have done exactly that by signing the multifaceted Sander Berge from Sheffield United.
While the Blades were keen to keep hold of the Norwegian, they ultimately opted to fulfil his wish of leaving for the newly-promoted Premier League outfit. “We did not want to lose Sander, particularly this close to the start of the Premier League season, but after the player expressed a strong interest to leave, we spoke to Burnley to get the best possible deal for Sheffield United,” explained Blades chief executive Stephen Bettis.
“Since his arrival at the club, Sander has been a popular member of the squad and it was hoped he would once again shine at Bramall Lane in the Premier League. Unfortunately, along with his representatives, he has opted to move to Burnley and we would like to place on record our thanks for his service over the past three and a half years.”
Sheffield United’s loss is certainly the Clarets’ gain, for joining Vincent Kompany’s men will be a terrific place for him to test himself again at the highest level and give him a fine opportunity to refine his craft under the tactically astute Belgian. “I have heard a lot of good things about the club and seeing the success from outside last season, there’s a great project building here,” insisted Berge.
“It’s a great environment full of young talented players from all around the world, so I just think it’s the perfect fit for me. The club has high ambitions, making several signings and it all just fits into what I’m looking for.”
Singing for a reasonable fee of £12 million, there’s no denying Burnley are getting a lot of bang for their buck with Berge.
Enjoying every opportunity to surge upfield with the ball at his feet, his powerful, line breaking dribbling will be a major weapon for his new team. Resistant to pressure, possessing nifty ball control and a master at using his towering frame and strength to withstand incoming foes, watch for him to flex his muscles here.
Effective at gaining separation to execute his actions and good at adapting his body shape when receiving so he knows if he needs to protect the ball or which direction his usually tidy first touch should go in, Berge gets these finer details spot on.
His ability to shift through gears to reach a brisk top speed, crafty array of manoeuvres to outfox foes and aptitude at drawing out opponents to manufacture space for others are also important features of his game.
Accompanying this with his polished distribution, this adds to his offensive value, for he has crafty vision and is quick to read the movement of colleagues before pinpointing them.
When the situation calls for him to keep it simple for ball retention purposes, switch the play crisply or to move the ball to a colleague in better positions, he does this coherently as well.
Striking a nice blend between risk and caution, his distribution skills should see him fit smoothly into Kompany’s plans.
His spatial awareness and constant buzzing to support attacks will assist him greatly too, for he knows which areas to occupy to form numerical and positional superiorities and is alert to dart into vacant spaces.
Usually on hand to offer support in both wider and central areas, this, in combination with his dynamic, late-arriving bursts into the box, adds to his worth.
A massive physical presence, who is very handy both at defensive and attacking set-pieces, plus at winning second balls for his team all over, the 1.95 cm powerhouse is a formidable foe for anyone to face off with.
Holding his own on the defensive end as well, the way he can outmuscle and unbalance foes with his power and strength, plus use his long legs to reach in to dispossess opponents, sees him effectively win back the ball.
While he excels at breaking up the play, times his tackles smoothly and is a tough man to get past, questions have been raised about his stopping intensity, but this isn’t a major negative.
All in all, there’s many reasons for Burnley fans to be thrilled with the acquisition of Berge, for the versatile midfielder, who can fulfil a variety of roles and responsibilities, is certainly a shrewd piece of business.
Able to score, create, progress the ball and defend soundly, there’s every reason to suggest he’ll stamp his authority at Turf Moor.
A player of substantial quality with so many of the desired attributes to excel in the Premier League and still just 25, seeing how Kompany deploys him will be intriguing.
Primed to impact from the outset after getting the move he craved, the uniquely skilled Norwegian could be a real-game changer for this newly promoted, ambitious Burnley outfit, who have grand plans of not just surviving but also thriving in their top-flight return.