Sepp van den Berg is relishing the opportunity to test himself in a “physical” and demanding environment after his loan switch to the Championship, where he could soon clash with a familiar face.
The 19-year-old has experienced a steady start to life at Liverpool following on from his switch back in the summer of 2019, having primarily trained and played at U23s level.
Van den Berg had already experienced senior football prior to his move to Anfield having played 21 games in the Eredivisie with PEC Zwolle, but he required an adjustment period on Merseyside.
And the first half of the 2020/21 season saw him make big strides forward in regards to his consistency, with U23s boss Barry Lewtas having also noted that he is “full of confidence.”
The move to Preston, therefore, as part of the deal which saw Ben Davies move the other way, was a needed move to continue his development and provide a platform into English football at a senior level.
Van den Berg made his debut for North End from the bench on the weekend, playing the final 18 minutes in a 2-1 defeat to Rotherham, a taste of action which he hopes is only the start of his bid to “develop myself.”
“That’s the main reason why I went here, hopefully, I can get a lot of playing time and get a really good experience and the Championship is a really good league as well and really hard,” he told Lancs Live.
“It’s physical, it’s quick, from end to end, so it will be perfect for me if I get some minutes and get experience and develop myself so that’s the main target for me here.
“Of course, this is different, it’s way harder the Championship itself but also the training I felt was really intense and really physical.
“So, of course, I have to adapt to it, but I really like it here and hopefully we can make a good second half of the season and I can play a lot of games.”
There is scope for Van den Berg to remain with Preston for 18 months should Liverpool seek to keep the teenager on loan next season, a period of time which could act as a valuable step forward in carving out his long-term future at Anfield.
With Preston battling to secure a playoff place, where they currently sit nine points away, it is an ideal environment for the young centre-back to get to grips with the demands required of him to compete for both a place and against the opposition.
And he could be presented with an early reunion with fellow Liverpool loanee Harvey Elliott when Preston meet Blackburn on Friday evening – and the Dutchman is not opposed to giving “him a little one” if they go head-to-head.
“I will not kick him but if he goes up to me one-on-one I will give him a little one. It will be nice to see him again,” Van den Berg said.
“I’ve seen him doing really well. It’s a good opportunity for anyone to hopefully play in the Championship and he’s done really well.
“I’m really happy for him and I’ll be glad to see him next week. Hopefully, though we will win, but he’s doing really well.”
Elliott has paved the way for Liverpool’s loanees this season, playing 24 games with a return of four goals and nine assists for Blackburn, who currently sit three points and three places above Preston.