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2K0PA8H Gelsenkirchen, Germany. 10th Sep, 2022. Soccer: Bundesliga, FC Schalke 04 - VfL Bochum, Matchday 6, Veltins Arena: Schalke's Sepp van den Berg gives instructions. Credit: David Inderlied/dpa - IMPORTANT NOTE: In accordance with the requirements of the DFL Deutsche FuBball Liga and the DFB Deutscher FuBball-Bund, it is prohibited to use or have used photographs taken in the stadium and/or of the match in the form of sequence pictures and/or video-like photo series./dpa/Alamy Live News

Liverpool loanee suffers relegation heartbreak after final-day drama

Liverpool loanee Sepp van den Berg‘s time in Germany ended in disappointment as he was relegated from the Bundesliga with Schalke.

After 18 months on loan at Preston, Van den Berg departed for the Bundesliga last summer and spent the entirety of this season at Schalke.

It has been turbulent campaign, with injury meaning the youngster missed six months of the season before returning in April.

Since his reintroduction, he has started Schalke’s last four matches but it hasn’t been enough to save them from a shock relegation to the 2. Bundesliga for a second time in three years.

2K1EH43 DORTMUND, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 17: Sepp van den Berg of Schalke 04 during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 at Signal Iduna Park on September 17, 2022 in Dortmund, Germany (Photo by Marcel ter Bals/Orange Pictures)

With Van den Berg in the middle of the back four, one win, one draw and a 6-0 defeat to Bayern Munich left Schalke needing to win and Stuttgart to drop points on the final day.

This would have seen them finish in 17th place, which would have sent them to a relegation play-off.

Stuttgart did draw their match against Hoffenheim but Schalke couldn’t uphold their end of the bargain, losing 4-2 to RB Leipzig.

It is a disappointing end to Van den Berg’s time by the Rhine, but he is far from at fault for the club’s relegation.

He was a permanent feature of manager Thomas Reis’ team when fit and was trusted enough to play in some of the club’s most crucial fixtures in modern times.

The Dutchman is set to return to Liverpool but did recently say: “If Schalke want to keep me, I’m definitely open to staying.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - Friday, November 6, 2020: Liverpool's Sepp Van Den Berg during the pre-match warm-up before the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between West Ham United FC Under-23's and Liverpool FC Under-23's at Rush Green. Liverpool won 4-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This sentiment was echoed by the club with Schalke’s head of licensing, Gerald Asamoah, stating: “Ultimately we have to see how the situation is after the season.

“We all hope to stay in. Then maybe there’s a chance to persuade Sepp to stay.”

With Joel Matip ageing and Joe Gomez seemingly out of favour, there could be a place at Liverpool for a new defender.

However, whether that man is Van den Berg – who will be eligible as a homegrown player from next season – remains to be seen.