Aston Villa have reportedly emerged as the early favourites to sign Sheffield United midfielder Sander Berge this summer.
The Norway international is the Blades club record signing. He joined from Belgian side Genk in January 2020 for £22million.
But with the Yorkshire club rock bottom of the Premier League and relegation to the Championship seemingly inevitable, Berge may leave Bramall Lane at the end of the season.
Front of the queue to secure his services are Villa, according to Eurosport.
The 23-year-old has been a regular starter since moving to England but has been sidelined since December due to surgery to a tendon in his leg.
He is due to return in late March. But even his influence will not be enough to save United, who have been resigned to relegation for a while.
They endured the worst start to a season in the history of English top-flight football, picking up just one point from their first 13 games. This more or less condemned them to a return to the second tier after just roughly a third of the season.
The loss of Premier League football would almost certainly see Berge exit the club. A number of sides are displaying an interest as well as Villa.
He already has 24 caps for his country. As a 65 defensive midfielder, he is a unique and promising prospect for any team to have at their disposal.
Villa have recently reinforced their midfield, signing Morgan Sanson from Marseille in the winter transfer window. They also have Douglas Luiz, John McGinn and Marvelous Nakamba as central options.
With Berges contract running until the summer of 2024 and a potential transfer war ensuing, it could take a considerable fee to get the deal over the line come the summer.
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Arsenal could rekindle interest
One of the clubs that Villa could be competing with is Mikel Artetas Arsenal.
Reports in his native Norway last November claimed that the North London side were keeping a close eye on Berge.
They were said to have been particularly keen before he made the move to Sheffield.
Artetas assistant manager at Arsenal, Albert Stuivenberg, coached Berge when he was in charge at Genk in 2017.
The Spaniard denied any interest at the time, but with Berge likely up for grabs again in a few months time, he will no doubt be considering a move once more.
READ MORE: Liverpool, Tottenham interest in Villa star prompts Dean Smith response
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