Sander Berge (Racing Genk, Belgium)
Position: Defensive Midfielder
2016/17 stats (joined in January): 25 games (1915 minutes) – 0 goals – 0 assists – 2 yellow cards – 0 red cards
The 19-year-old Norwegian wonderkid Sander Berge has been highly rated and well known in his home country for years, but he burst onto the international stage in 2017 after making a move from Valerenga to Racing Genk in Belgium. Towering at 1.93 cm the defensive midfielder immediately became a regular starter for his new club and in just a few months he made 25 appearances, 6 of which in Europa League.
Berge showed so many good displays in the heart of the midfield that he is already interesting teams like Everton and Arsenal. Without a doubt Genk’s asking price for the player that is expected to have a great future will be hefty, but based on what Berge showed in the second part of the 2016/17 season he is worthy of the investment. Much bigger than N’Golo Kante, but showing similar energy when committing in tackles, he is a rock in front of the defensive line and thanks to his sublimely timed tackles he constantly discourages opponents and breaks down attacks. Berge is using every bit of his body very well and time after time he wins back possession without committing needless fouls.
It is not only his ability to win 50/50 balls and air duels that impresses, but also the great maturity when it comes to positioning. Sander Berge showed great instinct when needed to intercept dangerous through balls and also he protected Genk’s goal very well from opponents rushing from deep when that was needed. This is not hugely surprising as Berge has vast international experience with Norway even at his tender age. He already has 3 caps for the senior squad and also played games for all age groups before that (U21, U19, U18, U17, U16).
The one drawback so far in his development is the lack of goals and decisive forward passes, but as his main job is to sit back and protect his team’s own goal this is not so surprising. Berge is allowing the full-backs to roam forward freely as he always stays behind and slots in when this is needed.
With age on his side, plenty of experience already and a role on the pitch that is highly rated by all modern managers Sander Berge is a name that very soon will be talked a lot about.