After the magnificent Champions League triumph last season, many Liverpool fans would have been forgiven for thinking the club might splash out again this summer. In the end, the biggest fee paid was a very modest £1.3 million for Dutch youngster Sepp van den Berg.
The 17-year-old is clearly one for the future, but who is he and what can we expect from the talented young defender?
Having originally joined the PEC Zwolle youth ranks in 2012, the club clearly felt they had a diamond in the rough, albeit one who was making excellent progress and before too long, able to contribute in the first team.
Van Den Berg made his debut as a substitute against FC Groningen on 11th March 2018, aged just 16 years and 81 days. He went on to make 21 Eredivisie appearances during the last two seasons, although opportunities were reduced when Jaap Stam was Zwolle manager.
Nevertheless, performances quickly caught the eye of numerous leading clubs around Europe and Liverpool wasted no time, moving swiftly to secure their man during the 2019 summer transfer window. The eventual fee could rise to around £4.4 million if clauses are activated.
Liverpool U23s boss Neil Critchley has been impressed with the Dutch teenager so far, praising the “calming influence” he offers the team. However, he also suggested the youngster could be a little more vocal on the pitch, believing that will come with time and confidence.
A first Reds appearance for Sepp van den Berg in New York 🙌⚽️ pic.twitter.com/kdXMcuLFgo
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 25, 2019
Assigned the number 72 shirt this season, Van Den Berg featured in pre-season friendlies and appeared in the first team squad photo. He has also been included in the Champions League squad list, as Liverpool aim to defend their European crown.
Analysing a wide selection of football betting sites, Liverpool are tipped for the Premier League title this season, but there are also more short-term markets such as both teams to score, which offer better value for money. The Reds have conceded in five of their six league games so betting against this outcome presents a risk; however, they were a stingy defensive unit last season and it isn’t likely to be long before they revert back to that. Whether Jürgen Klopp chances blooding his young signing during this campaign remains to be seen.
Technically gifted and considered to be an accomplished ball-playing defender, despite his youth, and playing out from the back is already a solid part of Van Den Berg’s numerous defensive capabilities. He is also highly regarded for his passing accuracy and reading of the game.
Certainly not lacking in height and aerial ability, the one downside is that Van Den Berg is still rather slight of build, although he should fill out physically in the coming months. Hopefully, that won’t affect his pace, in terms of his top speed or the excellent timing of his challenges.