Sepp van den Berg insists that his “dream” remains with Liverpool, with details on the new contract he signed before joining Schalke on loan now revealed.
Dutch defender Van den Berg is one of 17 players currently out on loan from Anfield, having made the switch to Bundesliga side Schalke late in the transfer window.
Already, the 20-year-old has taken up a first-choice role under Frank Kramer, starting and playing the full 90 minutes in all three games so far, against Stuttgart, Bochum and Dortmund.
It serves as a big step up following 18 months on loan with Preston, and in an interview with ELF Voetbal in his native Netherlands, Van den Berg admitted he felt he needed to test himself above the Championship.
“Over the last year-and-a-half I gained a lot of experience at Preston,” he explained.
“Just look at my shoulders. I have gained 10 kilos, only muscle mass!
“Another year in the Championship was not my preference. I spoke with Burnley, but I still wanted a step higher. The Bundesliga was my preference.”
Van den Berg signed a new long-term deal with Liverpool before heading over to Gelsenkirchen, with it now confirmed the Netherlands under-21 international is tied to the club until 2026.
It suggests there could still be a future for him on Merseyside, as he reiterated that it was his “dream” to cement himself under Jurgen Klopp.
“My dream remains to succeed there,” he continued.
“Fortunately, I have been playing all matches for over a year-and-a-half.
“Last season, including the Dutch juniors, I almost reached 60. I missed one game. I’m good for it, so this season is very important.”
That he has transitioned from a key role in the Championship to a regular starting berth in the Bundesliga – one of Europe’s top five leagues – will certainly please Klopp and his staff.
After all, gaining experience by playing consistently and performing to a high standard will be his best chance of joining the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez in the first-team squad.
“To be honest, I already knew during pre-season that I would be loaned out,” Van den Berg said.
“The chance of playing time at Liverpool is, of course, small.
“It was nice that I was on the bench for four more games in the Premier League this season. But I learn the most when I play.”