Liverpool took a chance with Sepp van den Berg by negotiating a loan deal with Preston North End back on February 1st. It’s gone incredibly well, however.
Sepp van den Berg was in a strange place at Liverpool in January. He wasn’t quite ready for first-team football but at the same time, the Dutchman was above youth football.
Van den Berg had senior experience before joining Liverpool, after all. He had 22 games in the Eredivisie, with 15 coming as starts. Very few teenagers manage that kind of game time.
But it was clear that the 19-year-old wasn’t ready for Liverpool’s level. The decision was made, then, to send him to Preston.
It was smart – Liverpool had just signed Ben Davies, opening up a spot in their defence. The Reds sent Van den Berg there knowing he could break into the side.
He didn’t become a regular immediately, however. Van den Berg remained without a start until February 24th. But things kicked on, to say the least.
The Liverpool loanee found a place in the side at right-back, playing non-stop until the end of the season. He ended up with fifteen starts for Preston, most of which came away from his natural spot.
Van den Berg is known as a centre-back but Preston utilised him on the right. Per Whoscored, he played nine games as a right-back, with another five coming at right-wingback and right-midfield.
Only once did Van den Berg line up as a centre-back.
The next step for Van den Berg
This deal worked out wonderfully for both Liverpool and Van den Berg. The player now has regular games in the Championship under his belt. He’s also now a more versatile player, adding right-back to his game.
That makes his next step very interesting. Would Liverpool like to take advantage of that? Van den Berg could remain as a squad option, able to cover both centre-back and right-back. That’s certainly there if Liverpool decide to move on Neco Williams for the season.
More likely, though, is another loan. We imagine there will be one or two Premier League clubs knocking on the door, hoping to add that versatility to their squad.
But we hope Liverpool send him back down to the Championship. Get a full season there, at either position, and see what kind of player Van den Berg is at 20.
If all goes well, Liverpool could have someone with good experience in both the Eredivisie and Championship, who’s completely confident in two positions. You don’t get that often at 20.
Maybe Liverpool sell him on from there – clubs would certainly make offers. But we think there’s a place in the Reds’ own squad for that if Van den Berg kicks on further.