Aston Villa are flying high in the Premier League at the moment, so much so that they cannot afford to rest on their laurels in the summer.
One player who the Villans are reportedly targeting ahead of the window is Sheffield United’s Sander Berge.
The midfielder has only been with the Blades just over a year but numerous clubs are now looking to capitalise on their potential relegation and snap him up.
In recent days, Eurosport have reported that Liverpool have joined Villa in the race to keep him in the top-flight.
Reports from France previously note that both Tottenham and Arsenal want to lure the Norwegian away.
Berge is currently rated at just £16.2m by Transfermarkt.
This would be an eye-catching piece of business from Johan Lange and Christian Purslow.
When Villa came back up, the latter expressed that Villa were keen on strengthening their numbers by signing players ready for the first-team but that they could still develop.
In Berge, they’d tick that box pretty elaborately. The 23-year-old has been tied back by Sheffield United’s woeful performance this term. The Blades sit rock bottom of the table and thus, the Norway international needs to be unshackled.
Dean Smith has a reputation for getting the best from young players and in Berge, they could find a type of player capable of bringing back the qualities that Gareth Barry showed at Villa Park.
Now retired, Barry was a pillar of consistency in the middle of the park, defining the role of a box to box midfielder.
The 40-year-old spent 11 years in the Aston Villa senior side, playing 433 games for them. He was known as a tough tackler but also someone assured on the ball.
During his time at Everton, Roberto Martinez hailed Barry as “one of the best English players ever.” Those were remarkable words for someone who played a vital role in Manchester City’s title triumph in 2012.
The City website describes him as so: “A reliable, composed and tactically astute midfielder with a knack for sniffing out danger, his understated style of play made him one of the unsung heroes of that title-winning side.”
Indeed, Berge has a similar knack to Barry. He is reliable and as his pass success rate of 85.4% tells you, he is composed.
Dubbed a “complete” midfielder by Chris Wilder, he is also strong in the tackle. During the course of his career, he has won 1.8 tackles per game. That’s ever so slightly down on his career-high tally of 2.3 tackles per match for Genk in the 2016/17 Europa League.
One of Barry’s greatest qualities was his ability to win the ball back. For context, he won 2.4 challenges per outing.
Given the midfielder’s status at Villa Park, it would take a lot for Berge to live up to his reputation. That being said, he has the qualities to do so.
Johan Lange must turn this transfer into a reality.