Chances are, you probably hadn’t heard of Sepp van den Berg before Liverpool signed him.
It’s the kind of situation where you just have to take it on good faith that our recruitment team saw something in him. Sure, he’s a talented young defender so let’s go with it. That sort of thinking. For him to get real minutes in the Eredivisie at age 17, he can’t be that bad. But you’d certainly want to be more reassured than this, so you look to people who have actually seen him play football.
One person who has seen Van den Berg play is John van ‘t Schip. No, we hadn’t heard of him either, but he was Van den Berg’s former manager at PEC Zwolle, and certainly knows a thing or two about the young defender.
“Look, Sepp is not the new Franz Beckenbauer”, The Mirror report Van’t Schip as saying. “But he is a perfectionist and not many young players of his age are like that.
“He is like Van Dijk in that respect. One mistake can make him so grumpy. And he shows it too. Technically and tactically he is ready to play at the top level. He is fast, he is great in the air. But is he an adult yet? No. He was still a schoolboy when we let him train with us because we could see his potential.
“Sepp can be a big player. At this moment he is not quite ready for that step but he will be soon.
“If he continues to develop, it will be a great signing.”
It’s important to remember that, as Van’t Schip mentions, Van den Berg is still just a boy. He might be particularly talented, but he deserves time to adapt. Hopefully we’ll see him some over the second half of the season, but for now, let’s just let this kid mature at his own pace.