SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

2RWF3PX Mainz's Sepp van den Berg during a German Bundesliga soccer match between FSV Mainz 05 and VfB Stuttgart in Mainz, Germany, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Centre-back Liverpool loaned out is now one of the fastest defenders in Germany

In his early outings for Liverpool, Sepp van den Berg would hardly have been highlighted for his pace, but the loanee is now among the fastest in Germany.

Van den Berg has been on the books at Liverpool for four-and-a-half years now, but the Dutch defender has spent the majority of that time out on loan.

Beyond four appearances for Jurgen Klopp‘s first team and regular outings for the U21s, he has spent a season-and-a-half at Preston, before heading to the Bundesliga with Schalke and, now, Mainz.

A first-choice starter for Klopp’s former side, the 22-year-old has played a key role in an upturn in form following a change of manager in November.

Mainz have now lost just two of their eight Bundesliga games under Jan Siewert, conceding five goals, having lost six and conceded 24 in the previous nine.

Van den Berg has stood out, not least in averaging more aerial duels won per 90 minutes (5.6) than any defender to clock 1,000 or more minutes in Europe’s top five leagues – with Virgil van Dijk (4.7) next best.

But more surprising is that he is statistically the fifth-fastest defender in the Bundesliga this season, having clocked a top speed of 34.78km/h.

Only Bayer Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah (35.81km/h), Bayern Munich’s Dayot Upamecano (35.02km/h) and Leverkusen’s Odilon Kossounou (34.95km/h) have recorded faster sprints.

Van den Berg’s Mainz team-mate Dominik Kohr (34.76km/h) completes the top five.

Though speed statistics are less readily available for the Premier League, it is notable than Van den Berg’s top speed is higher than Van Dijk’s headline-grabbing tournament-high of 34.5km/h in the Champions League in 2018/19.

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)

In mid-November, the Premier League shared the 10 fastest sprints for the campaign to date, with Luton forward Chiedozie Ogbene top at 36.93km/h.

At that stage, Burnley‘s Dara O’Shea (36.73km/h) was the fastest centre-back in the league, with Tottenham‘s Micky van de Ven (35.52km/h) the only other reported.

Van den Berg is also averaging 10.5km covered per 90 minutes in the German top flight, placing him 15th among centre-backs across the league.

Similarly in November, Dominik Szoboszlai was shown to be Liverpool’s marathon man, having covered 132.2km for an average of 11.3km per 90 minutes.