Aston Villa could clinch a unique signing for Dean Smith by landing Sheffield United midfielder Sander Berge.
Reports in recent days have suggested that Villa are eyeing a move for the Norway international in the summer transfer window, with the Blades likely heading back to the Championship given that they are currently rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table with just 13 games remaining.
While signing a player from the Premier League’s worst side may not sound like the most exciting of captures, the kind of qualities Berge would be able to offer to Smith makes him a very intriguing prospect.
Standing at a towering 6 foot 5, the 23-year-old is unlike any of Villa’s current midfield options, and it’s something his manager at the Blades, Chris Wilder, has been quick to highlight.
He 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 term). Sander should gain enormous confidence that he can play so well in various positions in the Premier League.”
Berge’s extra height and physicality marks him out as someone who would offer Smith something completely different to what he already has at his disposal, and so it’s no surprise that when it comes to duels won in the air (1.2 per game), the Norwegian comfortably betters any of Villa’s midfielders.
While Douglas Luiz and John McGinn have been Smith’s preferred partnership in central midfield, Berge’s arrival could add a different dimension to Villa’s engine room should the manager look to consolidate in games, or even go down the old ‘Marouane Fellaini as a number nine’ route if a goal’s needed instead.
Either way, like Wilder says, Berge is a “unique” talent and one that Johan Lange should consider bringing to the club.