Younger than I am, already capped at Netherlands U19 level and, as of yesterday, officially a Liverpool FC player; it’s fair to say that Sepp Van Den Berg is not ordinary 17-year-old.
After passing his medical yesterday, the Dutch youngster moved to the Red side of Merseyside for a reported initial fee of £1.3 million – a few years ago, we would have turned up our noses at a fee like that for an individual that only turned 17 in December of last year, but in today’s transfer market, this is minuscule.
However, when you realise that Ajax and Bayern Munich were chasing Van Den Berg, it makes the transfer a little more special – given the bargaining power those two clubs have over Central European talent.
Van Den Berg made his Eredivisie debut at 16, and last season, under the guidance of the colossus Jaap Stam, he made 15 appearances in the 34-game season that is used in the Netherlands – if a youngster was to appear in that many games within England, there would be considerable noise being created around him.
Van Den Berg, in his first interview with the Liverpool media, describes himself as “…A centre-half, I am calm with the ball, I am quite quick and can run, but I came here especially to improve myself more…”.
When you watch his games, this is apparent; his relative quickness for a 6ft 2 centre-half in terms of how well he can shift his balance and keep up with shifty attackers, one thing that is key when defending in open spaces – coincidentally you would see a lot of 4 v 4’s attacking Liverpool’s goal in the season just past so this aspect of Van Den Berg’s game is impressive.
Van Den Berg is particularly adept with the ball at his feet – a common theme with young Dutch CB’s (Exhibit A: Matthijs De Ligt) – and this was always going to be a key trait that Jurgen Klopp would look for. Many times last season, either Matip or Van Dijk were able to make those key incisions through the opposition that helped fester the more conservative possession-based system that the German manager used effectively last season.
If you want to make your own judgement on Van Den Berg, here’s a video to give you a snippet of what to expect from the 17-year-old.
At face value, this does seem like a signing for the future, but after more research, it is believed that Van Den Berg will be training amongst the U23’s that featured in the first team last season, and will be considered as cover for the first-team.
Reports from Paul Joyce that Bayern Munich were so desperate to capture Van Den Berg, that they called him WHILST he was in his medical on Merseyside. This alone highlights to supporters that Van Den Berg was a hot prospect for the leading clubs within Europe, and it is an impressive signing from Klopp, one that hopefully in years to come will prove to be an incredible piece of business for The Reds.
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