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Inside Sepp van den Berg’s loan at Preston – “I don’t want him to ever leave!”

Sepp van den Berg has now made 50 appearances for loan club Preston, and the impact he has made at Deepdale will no doubt leave Liverpool interested in a possible return.

The Reds initially agreed to loan their young Dutch defender out midway through last season, and after settling into a key role at Preston this was extended for the new campaign.

Since joining North End, Van den Berg has become a mainstay for a series of managers, from Alex Neil to Frankie McAvoy and now Ryan Lowe, the former Liverpool academy player who caught the eye in charge of Plymouth.

As it stands, Van den Berg is set to return to Merseyside at the end of the season and should take part in summer preparations with Jurgen Klopp‘s first team.

He will do so having made over half a century of outings in a challenging environment, having hit the 50-game mark for Preston in their 1-0 win at Hull.

So how is his time in Lancashire unfolding and what are the chances of a future at Liverpool?

To get the lowdown on Van den Berg’s loan so far and his long-term future, This Is Anfield spoke to LancsLive’s Preston report George Hodgson (@GHodgsonSport).

 

What have you made of Sepp’s time at Preston so far?

2F00KGH Deepdale Stadium, Preston, Lancashire, UK. 6th Mar, 2021. English Football League Championship Football, Preston North End versus Bournemouth; Sepp van den Berg of Preston North End Credit: Action Plus Sports/Alamy Live News

Outstanding. I think I speak for all PNE fans when I say I don’t want him to ever leave.

He’s bought into the club, the supporters adore him and he performs to a consistently high standard, playing with such maturity for his age.

Doesn’t moan, gets on with his job and is one of the first names on the teamsheet. It was a huge boost to get him back for this season.

 

He’s recently moved to his natural centre-back role – how has that gone?

Seamlessly.

North End play a 3-5-2 and he slots in at right centre-back very naturally. He is happy to be playing there now but gave it his all at wing-back last season and did well.

Comfortable on the ball, makes the right decisions, committed in the tackle and has the speed to recover well if required.

 

How has he coped with the physicality of the Championship?

Sepp van den Berg, Preston

He has. When Alex Neil was in charge and signed Sepp this time last year, that was the one thing he was intrigued to see how he would deal with.

I must say that I was too, because he didn’t look overly powerful or physical.

But his positioning, football brain and awareness help him a lot and I can’t recall him ever being bullied at this level.

He wins his fair share of headers and gets stuck in.

 

Anything else we should know?

One more thing to add, Van den Berg is a cracking lad. He’s one of the best to interview and speaks so well.

He’s humorous, confident and dead positive. A great kid to have in the dressing room and no doubt he is learning lots every day.

On the pitch, he is no shrinking violet and that stems from his personality.

 

And we know Preston fans would love him to stay, but do you think Sepp could break through at Liverpool?

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 21, 2020: Liverpool's Sepp Van Den Berg during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-23's and Southampton FC Under-23's at the Liverpool Academy. The game ended in a goalless draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s such a big jump, but Sepp is only 20 and he’s performing consistently in the Championship. He’s got such a high ceiling, so I think you’d be a fool to rule it out.

He’ll keep his head down and stay grounded.

The Dutchman was exceptional against Liverpool in the League Cup, so that may have given a glimpse of the future.

There do seem to be opportunities for young players at Liverpool, so Sepp must be ready to take his if it comes along one day.

As you say, North End fans would be over the moon if they could get the Dutchman on loan again next season or even sign him.

But, whatever the future holds, he will always be fondly thought of by those at Deepdale.


Thanks again to George Hodgson for his insight into Sepp’s loan. Follow George on Twitter @GHodgsonSport

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