A overlooked Liverpool defender labeled “the future Virgil van Dijk” is faster than Sadio Mané and might save FSG money in the transfer market
Liverpool is about to enter an exciting time in its history. The upcoming summer transfer window could be the busiest for Jürgen Klopp in a long time. For the first time, the Reds might break the record fee paid for Virgil van Dijk.
While Liverpool’s aim will be to focus on midfield and target Jude Bellingham, the club also has an intriguing task in the center-back position. While Van Dijk has just returned to near-perfect form, he isn’t getting any younger and will turn 32 this year.
Also, Joe Gomez’s form hasn’t been the same since his long-term injury. Meanwhile, Jol Matip is getting on in years, and with his contract expiring in 2024, now might be the best moment to get rid of him.
Of course, if there are such plans to reorganize the center-back department, adequate replacements must be in place, and Liverpool must be mindful of the money being spent, with FSG likely to spend prudently as usual.
That doesn’t give much room for error, especially if Bellingham is the main midfield target. But, Klopp may have a simple answer that FSG will not have to pay for because he is already under contract with the club.
Was very surprised to see this data point. Top speed this season in Bundesliga (didn’t realize the pace)
Sepp van Den Berg : 33.06km/h
Sadio Mane: 32.96 km/h
Serge Gnabry: 32.93 km/h pic.twitter.com/Mc372YLbNH
— Moby (@Mobyhaque1) March 7, 2023
Sepp van den Berg hasn’t had the best of seasons. His loan career in the Bundesliga with Schalke 04 began flawlessly. According to Wyscout, in his first three games, he won nine of his 13 defensive duels, produced a massive 26 interceptions, and demonstrated his brilliance in the air by winning six of his eight aerial duels against Borussia Dortmund.
But then he suffered an unfortunate ankle ligament injury, which has kept him out since October and severely hampered his growth. But, he is on the mend and has lately played for Schalke II in Germany’s fourth division, playing the entire 90 minutes to help his recuperation.
That implies he could play more for Schalke from now until the conclusion of the season, with the German club in desperate need of improvement. It is presently fighting for relegation, sitting second from the bottom of the table.
Van den Berg is unquestionably up for the challenge. He made an impression in his first few Bundesliga games and has demonstrated the ability to play at that level. Liverpool will be watching his progress with an eye to the future, to see how he handles the pressure of playing for a team fighting for survival.
Van den Berg is an excellent prospect to provide Klopp with another defensive option in the first team. Yesterday, Twitter user MobyHaque1 noted the Netherlands U21 international’s top Bundesliga pace — and it’s faster than Sadio Mané’s.
Not only does it surpass Mané, but it also clears his Bayern Munich teammate Serge Gnabry, both of whom are known for their quickness. Obviously quick enough to play the high defensive line Klopp prefers, Van den Berg’s tall frame plus the fact that he is also a Dutch international make it simple to see why he was called the ‘next Virgil van Dijk’ when he initially came at Anfield. Indeed, the teenager has lived up to his moniker, claiming in the past that he intends to be even greater than his countryman.
Despite being only 21 years old, Van Dijk was still playing for Groningen at the time, with 66 senior games under his belt. Van den Berg already has 100, and while development is seldom linear, understanding the growth of center-backs is vital.
In general, center-backs mature at a later age, and despite his wealth of experience, Van den Berg is still considered a young defender. It will be fascinating to see if Liverpool decides to give him a try this summer, depending on how well he recovers from his injury. It’s wonderful news for FSG if it’s a viable alternative.