Art manager

Manager says there’s ‘nothing I can do’ to stop Leeds from signing their £35m star

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Paul Heckingbottom admits there is “nothing” Sheffield United can do to stop Sander Berge leaving if Premier League side Leeds trigger his release clause, speaking to Yorkshire Live.

It’s hard to know exactly what people think of the Leeds summer.

On the one hand, a team that narrowly avoided relegation last season managed to add three very exciting players – Rasmus Kristensen, Brenden Aaronson and Marc Roca – to their very thin squad. Other agreements are also in progress.

But, on the other hand, Jesse Marsch will almost certainly start his first full season as Leeds boss without Kalvin Phillips or Raphinha; Arguably the club’s most impressive players since returning to the Premier League in 2020.

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Could Sander Berge take Kalvin Phillips’ place at Leeds United?

Phillips has agreed to move to Manchester City. According to GiveMeSport, 6ft 4in Norway international Berge has been named as a potential successor, although he would not be a similar successor for Leeds’ so-called ‘Yorkshire Pirlo’.

Reports last week claimed Berge had a £35m release clause in his contract with Sheffield United. And the existence of such a clause has now been confirmed by a man who spent a brief unsuccessful stint in the Elland Road dugout before the bewitching Marcelo Bielsa arrived to turn pumpkins into cars, the average players of the championship as great players.

“I think it’s been well documented that he has a release clause,” Heckingbottom says. “That’s it, it’s simple. I can not do anything about it. He takes care of himself, this situation.

“I don’t mind because sometimes it’s easier and more direct. The only problem with release clauses is when they are activated.

£35 million; Worth it?

If the coveted Raphinha follows Phillips out the door, Leeds could have around £100m to play with by the August deadline. It remains to be seen, however, if they are willing to invest a third of that on a player who endured a bit of a mixed bag in the Championship last season.

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“I had a conversation with him at the end of last season. Like I said, there’s more to come from him in my eyes,” Heckingbottom says of Berge.

“We got him to a position where he felt like he was going to score every time he stepped onto the pitch and he had at least two chances per game in the last six games or so.

“I think it’s something we can really develop and push and grow. He’s never been known as a goalscorer. He’s still learning the art of it and the only thing he improved on was getting in in the box and his goals were usually quite close.

“One thing we can still improve on is his shooting from distance because he has a hell of a shot. I think we can really improve that. These are the conversations we want to have with him.

Berge is a more box-to-box player than the deep Phillips. Maybe he could play as a roving number eight under Marsch, with Roca sitting back.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

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