What Can Sander Berge Provide to Burnley’s Midfield?

From the moment Sander Berge stepped through the doors at Sheffield United, it seemed he was destined for a move away. Arriving in January 2020 for a then club-record £22m fee, the Norwegian’s talent has never been in question and with over 100 appearances for The Blades, neither was his loyalty. But having now made the move to fellow newly promoted side Burnley, can Berge push on and announce himself to the Premier League at the second time of asking?


Berge endured a tough start to life in England but played an integral role as Sheffield United bounced back to the topflight last season. The definition of box-to-box, Berge’s ball-carrying ability instantly stood out to Burnley manager Vincent Kompany, “he’s an intelligent footballer with a great eye for a pass and the ability to run with the ball.”


As Kompany alluded to, Berge is also able to influence the attacking phases of play with his line-breaking passes and an eye for goal. Having perfected the art of the last-man run, Berge netted six goals last season, and Burnley will hope he can add some incision to a midfield that has relied heavily on Josh Brownhill’s output. 


Brownhill, who was instrumental in Burnley’s promotion, didn’t start on the opening day of the season against Manchester City and has since been linked with a move away. The 27-year-old’s potential departure would see Berge shoulder more attacking responsibility, though it’s yet to be seen whether Kompany’s change in formation, which saw Brownhill drop out of the starting XI, will become a permanent fixture of Burnley’s play this season. 


How Burnley Returned to the Promised Land Under Vincent Kompany


Berge looked to have been signed to play on the right-hand side of a midfield three, combining his excellent ball-winning abilities with strong running and decision-making in the final third. But having started in a midfield pairing with Josh Cullen against City, his role could change. For Berge, though, his consistency and receptiveness to instructions means he’ll take any change in approach in his stride. The midfielder’s adaptability will also help Burnley as they transition to a less possession-orientated style of play.


Kompany’s team averaged 64.6% possession in the Championship last season. But they’re unlikely to dominate the ball in quite the same fashion in the Premier League, and this is where Berge’s passing range will play a huge role. Not just capable of picking out runners inside the box, Berge’s ability to play long will allow Burnley to go from back to front at speed whilst also causing teams a problem on the counter. 


The Norwegian midfielder is exactly the type of all-rounder that Burnley need to push on this season – a model professional capable of influencing the game all over the pitch whilst bringing the best out of his teammates. At just £12 million, Berge’s acquisition is something of a coup for Kompany as he looks to keep Burnley in the Premier League.


By: Sam Tabuteau / @TabuteauS

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Getty Images