Arsenal may be the destination for Sander Berge with assistant coach Albert Stuivenberg a big fan of the Sheffield United ace, former Norway international Erik Thorstvedt has told TV2.
It isn’t often an assistant coach rather than the manager or sporting director is driving a club’s interest in a big-money summer target.
But, according to Sky, it’s Stuivenberg’s presence in the Emirates dugout that has Arsenal leading the chase for Berge, the Bramall Lane powerhouse with a £35 million release clause in his Sheffield United contract.
Stuivenberg, an assistant coach to Mikel Arteta in north London, was in charge of Genk when Berge was making his name at the Belgian Jupiler League giants in 2017.
“(Berge) is already very mature. He is intelligent, reads the game well, and takes the initiative. He has the potential to become a future leader,” Stuivenberg told talkSPORT recently.
The former Valerenga youngster has also been linked with the likes of Everton, Aston Villa and with, Jurgen Klopp’s gushing praise still fresh in the mind, Liverpool.
But Thorstvedt believes as long as Stuivenberg stays at Arsenal the Emirates will remain a likely destination for a player who, alongside Erling Haaland and Martin Odegaard, is leading a golden generation of Norwegian talent.
“He has bigger ambitions, and I think bigger clubs are interested in him,” Thorstvedt said when asked whether Berge could join a club of the size of Brighton and Hove Albion or Leeds United.
“Arsenal’s assistant coach (Stuivenberg) was working in Genk in Belgium when Berge was picked up from Valerenga, and I know he likes Sander Berge.
“It isn’t impossible to get that type of club and I think (Arsenal) is of the magnitude (of club) he wants. It will be very exciting to see where he ends up because he has gained a very good reputation in England.”
A powerful yet cultured central midfielder, the 6ft 4in Berge would add much-needed physicality to an often lightweight Arsenal team while providing a box-to-box presence capable of breaking the lines and linking an often disjointed team.
“He often wins duels. He is extremely good at transporting the ball and running with the ball,” adds Thorstvedt, a former Tottenham ace with 97 caps for the Norway national team.
“That is perhaps his greatest quality. It is difficult to take the ball away from him. He is good with his head and dribbles quite often.”