Arsenal could sign a potential Granit Xhaka upgrade in Sheffield United midfielder Sander Berge.
The Blades are currently bottom of the Premier League table and look nailed-on favourites to be relegated back to the Championship at the end of the season.
Jeunes Footeux have now claimed that both Arsenal and north London rivals Tottenham are keen to take advantage of that possible situation with a potential move for Berge.
The report claims that both clubs are “on alert” over the Norway international’s potential availability this summer and that Sheffield United are ready to let him leave for a fee of around €26m (£22m).
Speaking after his mistake against Tottenham earlier this season, Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness slammed Xhaka, saying: “Big players, leaders, don’t allow that to happen on the football pitch.
“As a central midfield player, as a holding central midfield player – I don’t know what Xhaka is, it’s been about six or seven years and I’m not quite sure what he is – the alarm bells are ringing.”
Those errors and mistakes have been something which has plagued Xhaka throughout his Arsenal career – even this season, he has had two errors leading directly to goals, including that shocking one against Burnley last week.
In Berge, they would be getting someone who appears to be a lot more reliable (no errors leading to goals or even a shot this season), and a bit more dominant in terms of his presence.
Former Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder said: “Sander has been unique. He is the one who has stood out for us. He is a complete midfielder. He can play as 8s and as 6s. He can play in different formations. The wonderful thing about Sander is his attitude.
“Complete midfielders are like that. Look at Jordan Henderson (FWA’s Footballer of the Year last season). Sander should gain enormous confidence that he can play so well in various positions in the Premier League.”
When you compare some key stats between Xhaka and Berge, the Norwegian actually comes out better in many cases. He averages more shots, dribbles and key passes per game in the Premier League this campaign, while defensively he also seems to be a lot more of an anchor. He wins back possession more, gets dribbled past half as often as the Swiss man and commits far fewer fouls. In essence, the way Berge defends is that he’s just as aggressive, but isn’t prone to the same mistakes made in transition.
With Thomas Partey nailed on as one of the starters in Mikel Arteta’s midfield given his big-money arrival from Atletico Madrid last summer, Berge could well be the man to partner him come next season. Edu could sign a real upgrade for the Gunners in the Sheffield United powerhouse.