Chelsea reportedly expressed an interest in signing Sheffield United midfielder Sander Berge on transfer deadline day.
Despite the Blades’ relegation to the Championship in the 2020-21 season, Berge has remained loyal to the Bramall Lane club and continues to act as a vital player for Paul Heckingbottom‘s side.
Berge produced six goals and four assists in 33 Championship games last term to help his side reach the playoffs, and he has kicked off the new season with two goals and two assists from seven matches.
The 24-year-old – who can play as a number six or higher up in the midfield – is believed to have attracted the attention of Premier League clubs and now has less than two years left to run on his Sheffield United contract.
According to The Star, Chelsea and Club Brugge were both keen to take Berge off of Sheffield United’s hands late in the window, and the Blues made contact over a prospective move.
Berge supposedly possesses a £35m release clause in his contract with the Blades, and Belgian outfit Brugge did not show a willingness to meet that price before dropping their interest.
The report adds that Chelsea also decided against making a formal bid for the Norway international after brief talks, but the transfer window in Belgium does not close until September 6, which could therefore still see Brugge reignite their interest.
However, Heckingbottom is hopeful that his side can retain Berge’s services after the deadline to register squads for the Champions League group stage passed.
“The big attraction of them, with all due respect, was probably the Champions League and that (registration) deadline has now passed,” The Star quotes Heckingbottom as saying.
“I’ve not had any reassurances yet, no, but we have had discussions about how damaging that might be. It would have been damaging on the day but we would have gone to certain lengths to mitigate that. Obviously we couldn’t now.
“We’ve won games without him. We wouldn’t have moaned. We’d have got our heads down. But I’m pleased he’s still here with us. Not once has Sander ever lost focus.”
Berge arrived at Bramall Lane from Genk for a £20.7m fee in January 2020, and the 6ft 4in midfielder has registered 10 goals and eight assists in 74 appearances for the club since.
Chelsea did manage to add reinforcements to their engine room on deadline day with the acquisition of Denis Zakaria from Juventus, who has joined on loan with an option to make the deal permanent.
However, the Blues were frustrated in their attempts to sign Frenkie de Jong, Edson Alvarez and Ibrahim Sangare, while a verbal £50m proposal for Southampton’s Romeo Lavia was allegedly turned down.
Chelsea – who allowed Billy Gilmour to join Brighton & Hove Albion after also signing Carney Chukwuemeka from Aston Villa – are nevertheless being tipped to reignite their interest in Ajax’s Alvarez in January.