Another week, another Scout Report, another youngster being targeted by Arsenal.
Sander Berge might be somewhat of an unknown quantity for fans outside of Belgium or his home country of Norway, but he has caught the eye of a number of Premier League clubs.
Arsenal appear to now be leading the race for the holding midfielder, having gone toe-to-toe with Everton over the 19-year-old.
An £18 million deal seems possible but it could be difficult, with his current club Genk keen to retain his services.
So who is Sander Berge and what sort of player would Arsenal be getting if a move to the Emirates does come to fruition?
Berge started his career at Asker Football, a club in the Norwegian second division, making his first-team debut in 2014.
After just six appearances, some of Norway’s biggest clubs started to take notice, with Valerenga snapping up the 6ft 5in midfielder prior to the 2015 season.
He quickly became a key player for his new side and continued to impress, enhancing his reputation both in Norway and continental Europe.
When Genk sold Wilfried Ndidi to Leicester City in January of this year, the Belgian giants need an immediate replacement, snapping up Berge for just under £2 million on a four-year deal.
Once again, he quickly established himself, enhanced his reputation and drew admiring glances from Europe’s biggest clubs, while also making his international debut for Norway in March.
Standing at a towering 6ft 5in, Berge provides a physical presence in midfield and often dominates games because of this.
However, he not reliant on his stature and strength. Berge uses his good technical ability and composure to control games and dictate play from deep, providing more than just a destructive element to his side.
The 19-year-old clearly knows his strengths, operating mostly in the middle of the pitch and playing simple passes to the attacking players in the final third, although he is comfortable dribbling past players.
These qualities are also pointed out by FMG writer and fellow Norwegian Ola Bjerkevoll, who has been closely watching Berge’s progress thus far.
“He’s got a good physique, is good on the ball and can pick out a pass.” Said Bjerkevoll.
“He’s the one you want to balance your midfield, staying deep and winning the ball with his tackling ability before playing it to someone more creative.”
However, the main concern surrounding Berge is his experience.
Having only played 71 club games, both in Norway and Belgium, it would appear that he lacks experience at a high level, although he has played in the Europa League with Genk and for the Norwegian national team.
This inexperience is an issue mostly because of the quoted transfer fee of £18 million, a lot of money to pay for a player with that few games under his belt.
However, I do believe in the notion that if you are good enough, you are old enough.
I am a fan of Sander Berge. I feel he has a lot of the qualities a certain Patrick Vieira had. Tall, strong, a leader, able to dominate a game and play a crucial role in winning a game, everything the former Gunners captain was about.
It’s a huge risk to pay £18 million for a 19-year-old, in fact, it would make him Arsenal fifth most expensive signing ever, something that would put a fair amount of pressure on his shoulders.
Would Arsene Wenger realistically pay that much for a player that might not necessarily go straight into the first-team? He has paid out big money for youngsters in the past, including £15 million on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and £16 million on Calum Chambers, so you never know.
While Berge would likely be a good long term addition and maybe even make an immediate impact, I feel that strengthening the team in other areas should be the priority.
This one might happen, it might not, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.