This article is part of Football FanCast’s Expert Roundup feature, which provides three quotes from those in the know in order to illuminate fundamental strengths, weaknesses, quirks, stylistic comparisons and general observations of players, transfer targets and confirmed signings.
At just 21 years of age Sander Berge is already an established Norway international with 20 caps to his name. For his club Genk he has played every minute of their Champions League campaign this season, particularly impressing in what can be perceived to be auditions against Liverpool and Napoli. His 6ft 5 frame offers a physical presence to any midfield but that belies an artful touch, while his dribbling prowess from central areas has really caught the eye.
All of which lends itself to some inevitable links to bigger clubs, with Liverpool and Napoli both interested in signing him according to Genk’s sporting director, per Goal.
The burning fire was stoked recent as, after Berge led Liverpool’s midfield a merry dance at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp was seen congratulating the youngster on his fine showing . Soon after that it emerged that Chelsea are ready to join the chase for the in-demand star.
Perhaps then it’s about time we found out more about this son to two basketball internationals who might well be pounding the Premier League boards in the very near future.
To do that we sought out the opinions of those who know him best….
Presently Ryan Giggs’ assistant for Wales, Stuivenberg coached Berge in his first season in Belgium’s First Division A after heading down from his native Scandinavia.
Clearly it was not just the player’s ability on the ball that stood out, as per talkSPORT:
“He is already very mature. He is intelligent, reads the game well, and takes the initiative. He has the potential to become a future leader.”
In forty-plus years of coaching Lagerback has seen a great many exceptional talents come to fruition and a good deal more fall away under the hype. This explains his measured response here to an enquiry about Berge’s aptitude and where it might take him next, as per The Sun:
“He is a very young player, and one that has a good role at his club. He is playing for them at a pretty good level. So he must really think about it [leaving Genk], I think. But of course it is up to him.”
Back in 2017, before the Berge hype had really taken off, Giæver offered a word of warning regarding the teenager’s future.
While the Norweigan journalist was clearly a huge admirer of his ability, he suggested that a move to English football could be detrimental to his future development via his personal Twitter account.
“I think Sander Berge has a huge future ahead of him but I do wonder if a move to the Premier League is a bit premature.
“Physically he is huge and his footballing IQ is miles ahead of his age. He picks the right pass, is a great stabilizer and dictates the midfield.
“He only just came to Belgium and even though he has impressed, I think he’d need a full season there for experience. [He has] huge potential, though.”
Berge’s ability to break defensive lines could well be his strongest asset but just as pertinent is the calmness he displays in possession along with an assurance that often has him controlling the tempo of games.
Once Chelsea’s transfer ban has ended or been overturned, don’t be surprised if two of the Premier League’s behemoths lock horns in a battle for his signature.