After a season and a half on loan with Preston North End in the Championship, 20-year-old centre half Sepp van den Berg has headed to Germany this season as the Dutch youngster chases playing time and continues to develop.
Injuries delayed his departure and meant he made the matchday squad a few times before joining Schalke, but barring something unexpected a move was always on the cards—and it was important for the player that it be at a higher level than the Championship.
“I already knew during pre-season that I would be loaned out,” Van den Berg noted. “The chance of playing time at Liverpool is of course small but it was nice that I was on the bench for four games in the Premier League this season.
“But I learn the most when I play. Over the last year and a half I have gained a lot of experience at Preston in the Championship, but another year Championship was not my preference. I spoke with Burnley, but I still wanted a step higher. The Bundesliga was my preference.”
Not only is the Bundesliga a step up in competition, but at Schalke minutes will be harder to come by than they were at Preston or would have been at Burnley, though Van den Berg has started all three games since arriving in Germany.
In those three games, Schalke has recorded their only win from seven total league games so far along with a draw and loss, with one goal against in each of the games, with the player earning positive reviews for a side that will be expecting a fight to stay up.
“The Bundesliga a step higher and Schalke 04 is a supporter’s club,” he added. “Sixty-thousand spectators in the stands every game, supporters travel everywhere, and Schalke also gets a lot of attention in the media.
“As a child I once sat here in the stands with my father. It was a wonderful to experience. It was also closer [to home] for me, so the decision was made in no time and my first three games here for the club have proved me right so far.”