A Liverpool defender has begun plotting his move away from Anfield by revealing he would like to join Bundesliga side Schalke, with Jurgen Klopp’s team braced for an offer.
While central midfield will be Klopp’s priority as he looks to improve the Liverpool squad this summer, the manager will also been keen on bolstering central defence. The Reds struggled earlier this season when both Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate were out injured, which demonstrated the need for a new player to arrive in the position.
Liverpool must also future-proof their centre-half options, with Van Dijk and Joel Matip now 31 years old. Klopp does have Joe Gomez, Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams as other centre-backs in his squad, though none of them are considered good enough to partner Konate going forward.
Sepp van den Berg is another defender who will return to Anfield at the end of the season. The 21-year-old spent 18 months on loan at Preston North End before joining Schalke at the start of the current campaign.
Some would have expected Van Den Berg to return to Liverpool this summer to try and impress Klopp and force his way into the manager’s thinking. After all, there seems to be a gap opening up in the squad.
But Van Den Berg has instead signalled his desire to remain at Schalke by joining them permanently.
Following Schalke’s recent 3-2 win over Mainz, during which Van Den Berg played a full 90 minutes, the Dutchman revealed how he is ‘definitely open’ to staying with the German outfit as the two parties ‘fit’ together.
“I love football because of games like this,” he told German source WAZ. “In the moments after the game and also after the converted penalty you saw so many happy people, it’s crazy, just unbelievable. That’s what football is all about: making the fans happy and creating such special emotions.
Liverpool man praises ‘great’ Bundesliga opportunity
“In the two games against Bremen and Mainz alone I gained great experience. The Bundesliga is a great opportunity for me. If Schalke want to keep me, I’m definitely open to staying.
“Schalke and I – that fits. It’s a way for me to stay here. But first we’ll finish the season, then we’ll talk to each other.”
Gerald Asamoah, Schalke’s head of recruitment, then confirmed his team’s interest in raiding Liverpool for the player. “We know what we have in Sepp, and Sepp knows what he has in Schalke 04,” the chief said.
“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.”
Van Den Berg has had an injury-hit campaign in Germany, missing a host of games due to an ankle problem and then a foot injury. Overall, he has made just six appearances, scoring one goal in that time.
Despite his lack of game time, Van Den Berg has impressed when he has been fit and is enjoying a good end to the season.
It is now up to Schalke to decide how much Van Den Berg is worth and to see if they can tempt Liverpool into a sale by offering a good amount of money. If they fail to do this, the Merseyside club will probably keep him and send him out on loan again next season, with a big-name centre-back likely to join and fill their void in defence.