He’s not a household name yet but Sepp van den Berg has explained how he is learning from Virgil van Dijk, promising to ”show his ability” for Liverpool.
The 17-year-old moved to Merseyside during the summer, arriving from Eredivisie side PEC Zwolle, and has started the season playing with Neil Critchley’s under -23s.
Speaking to Fox Sports, Van den Berg has spoken about the impact of training alongside current Ballon d’Or favourite Van Dijk and his fellow first-team members:
“They actually teach me everything.
Virgil van Dijk, for example, who I can watch, they teach me how to win the Champions League final. That’s football.
Everyone helps me. I can learn the most from Van Dijk. So if he gives me tips, I’ll save them. If I make a mistake like not stepping up and things like that. It is things you need to know.
Everyone has received me well. That has made me feel good. In the end, I’m not here in vain. I want to show what I can do.”
The 17-year-old defender has arrived with a big reputation and is someone Jurgen Klopp sees as one for the future.
But what does this season hold for Van den Berg?
Potential rise at Liverpool under Klopp
The centre-back has already impressed coaches at Liverpool’s academy during his short time at the club and there is every chance he could feature for the senior team at some point this campaign.
Van den Berg has started the season as fifth choice centre-back, however, behind Van Dijk, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren, which highlights how difficult it will be to break in.
With Klopp keeping hold of Lovren in order to be the Reds’ fourth choice central defender, it shows that the manager is prepared for the busy season ahead, challenging across four competitions.
Liverpool’s Carabao Cup third-round tie at MK Dons could be the perfect time for Klopp to rotate his squad and hand a number of youngsters some game time, and potentially a debut to Van den Berg.
We have seen over the years that Klopp isn’t afraid to blood youngsters in the cup competitions, with last season’s example being Ki-Jana Hoever.
The then 16-year-old was thrown in after Liverpool suffered a defensive injury crisis ahead of their FA Cup third round clash at Wolves.
Hoever was brought on to replace Lovren six minutes into the game, becoming Liverpool’s third-youngest player in history in the process.
Van den Berg is no stranger to first-team football – the centre-back made 15 appearances last season in the Dutch top flight, which speaks volumes about his quality at such a tender age.
If he doesn’t feature in the Carabao Cup it will be no great issue – he will continue making strides within the youth setup for the foreseeable future, eventually breaking through.
With the departure of Lovren coming either in January or next summer, Klopp should, and likely will, look internally for his replacement in the form of Van den Berg.