By James Miller – @JimmyMiller2608
Liverpool announced the signing of young Dutch prodigy, Sepp van den Berg, having reportedly fended off interest from a host of top European sides including Bayern Munich.
In a time where the Reds boast one of the finest squads in world football, Jürgen Klopp has once again shown that he is willing to work to develop players, rather than simply throw unnecessary funds about for no reason.
Moving forward from a season where his side recorded the best defensive numbers in the Premier League, the manager was caught at a crossroads – where can his backline be improved without coughing up an astronomical fee for an elite defender?
This move is rather genius, as it saves a significant amount of money while also securing one of Europe’s most highly-rated central defensive prospects in one fell swoop.
Looking at Liverpool’s defensive options as things stand, he currently has available to him a world-class professional in Virgil van Dijk, who starts whenever possible. He then has the option of three more than capable, yet also experienced players in Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren.
Right now, there is no need for another centre back to come in. The squad need to adjust in other areas and prioritise larger funds for that. However, in van den Berg, the Reds appear to have secured a player who can slot into the youth sides, but also the first team if required – he won’t be considered simply a prospect for the future.
This deal provokes flashbacks to the arrival of Joe Gomez at Anfield. Back in the summer of 2015, not too long before the appointment of Klopp, an unknown quantity was unveiled on Merseyside, intriguing fans.
The deals involving these two players, provides major similarities. For instance, the signing of Van den Berg is reported to have cost the club an initial £1.3million, rising to a potential £4.4m. Gomez joined the club for a similarly modest figure of around £3.5m from Charlton Athletic.
The nature of the recruitment seems to appear like the Reds maybe on the hunt for a long-term leader in that back four, someone who can move the club forward into the future – as much as we’d love him to be, Virgil van Dijk won’t be around forever.
There can be no argument that Gomez has been a success for the Reds since coming to the club, especially since establishing himself as an England international. On the other hand, he has been quite unfortunate with his injury record, a factor which perhaps has had an influence in Klopp still searching for a young model.
Let us not forget that, earlier this summer, heavy speculation told that Klopp wanted to bring in 19-year-old Matthijis De Ligt of Ajax, another Dutchman. The Reds have been priced-out of that one – due to ridiculous wage demands – but it’s clear to see what the recruitment team have been looking for, and where they’ve been searching for it.
Defenders from the Netherlands are very much in vogue at Anfield, it seems. With Virgil van Dijk, Ki-Jana Hoever and now Sepp van den Berg all Liverpool employees, it seems a Dutch dynasty is on the cards in the future of this club.