2TAXXHR Mainz, Germany . 03rd Dec, 2023. MAINZ, GERMANY - DECEMBER 3: Sepp van den Berg of 1.FSV Mainz 05 in action during the Bundesliga Football match between 1. FSV Mainz 05 and SC Freiburg at MEWA Arena on December 3, 2023 in Mainz, Germany. (Photo by Dan O' Connor/ATPImages) (O'CONNOR Dan/ATP/SPP) Credit: SPP Sport Press Photo. /Alamy Live News

Liverpool could lose defender for bargain fee as Bundesliga club trigger clause

Liverpool could lose defender Sepp van den Berg for a similar fee to what they paid for him, with Mainz expected to trigger a buyout clause for their loanee.

Van den Berg ended the season with the goal that effectively retained Mainz’s place in the Bundesliga for next season, netting the second in a 3-1 win over Wolfsburg.

It ensured that Jurgen Klopp‘s former club avoided the drop, eventually finishing 13th in the German top tier, and allows them to set plans in motion.

One of those, it seems, is keeping Van den Berg, with Liverpool and Mainz negotiating a first-option purchase clause in their deal last summer.

According to Kicker, Mainz now intend to activated that clause, which they claim would allow them to sign the Dutchman for “less than €5 million.”

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)

That would value the potential move at below £4.3 million, which is lower than the full fee Liverpool agreed with PEC Zwolle when Van den Berg first made the switch to Merseyside in 2019.

Though the Reds paid an initial £1.3 million for the then-17-year-old, various add-ons would take that up to £4.4 million.

It remains to be seen if Van den Berg reached all the targets required to trigger those add-ons, but either way, there would be little profit made if he were to join Mainz this summer.

The exact details of the agreement with Liverpool are unclear, and it may be that Mainz do not have the option to simply buy the centre-back outright.

But there appears to be a desire to retain the 22-year-old on a permanent basis, after a campaign that saw him make 36 appearances and score three goals.

Van den Berg may still opt to head back to Anfield in a bid to impress new head coach Arne Slot in pre-season, with a change of leadership potentially offering him a better chance of establishing himself in the first team.

A readymade solution?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 31, 2022: Liverpool's Sepp van den Berg during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and RC Strasbourg Alsace at Anfield. Strasbourg won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Slot will likely already be aware of his compatriot’s talents, with Van den Berg a regular with the Netherlands U21s and having played 22 times for PEC Zwolle’s senior side as a teenager.

With Joel Matip departing Liverpool on a free transfer this summer, the club are expected to target a new centre-back in the transfer market.

But in Van den Berg they could already possess a readymade alternative to join Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate, Jarell Quansah and Joe Gomez as options for Slot.

Crucially, he would be eligible as a homegrown player, which could be particularly useful in the Premier League and Champions League.