Liverpool have made their first signing of their summer with PEC Zwolle’s teenage defender Sepp van den Berg moving to the Reds in a deal which could rise to £4.4million.
Van den Berg is just 17 but while his signature is unlikely to have fans rushing to back the Reds in online betting in the UK, he is set to go straight into Jurgen Klopp’s first-team squad at Anfield having also attracted interest from Ajax, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
We’ve compared the centre-back’s stats from the 2018-19 Eredivisie campaign to those of Klopp’s current options in the centre of defence: Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez.
Despite his tender age, Van den Berg made 15 league appearances for Zwolle last term, totalling 906 minutes.
In that time, he averaged 2.0 tackles per 90 minutes at a completion rate of 83.3%.
Big numbers in terms of defensive actions are not necessarily the sign of a good player – in fact, the opposite is generally true when it comes to tackles – and that is shown by Van Dijk, who completes the fewest number of tackles per 90 minutes of the whole group with 1.0 but does so with a 100% completion rate.
Van den Berg still ranks highly, however, with Van Dijk the only member of the quintet with a better success rate and Matip the only player to complete more tackles per 90 (2.3 at a success rate of 79.3%).
Lovren and Gomez both average 1.4 tackles per 90, although the latter has a slightly better success rate (70% vs 66.6%).
Van den Berg also ranks highly in terms of interceptions, with only Matip (1.9 per 90) averaging more than his 1.2 per 90 in the Eredivisie.
Gomez is next with 1.2, followed by Van Dijk on 1.1 and Lovren on 1.0.
One area the youngster may struggle in the Premier League is his aerial prowess. Van den Berg won 1.3 aerial duels per 90 minutes last season at a success rate of 40.6% – both are the lowest figures of the quintet in this regard.
Van Dijk is the king when it comes to this category, winning the joint most (4.8 per 90) and with the best success rate (73.8%).
Lovren also averages 4.8 successful duels, albeit at a lower success rate of 67.6%. Matip records a healthy 3.9 per 90, winning 70.9% of his battles, although Gomez is closer to Van den Berg, winning 2.0 aerial duels per 90 at a 54.1% success rate.
Sepp van den Berg highlights from last season. He is set to join Liverpool from PEC Zwolle. He's 17.pic.twitter.com/bVCAHHDkS4
— DaveOCKOP (@DaveOCKOP) June 25, 2019
Liverpool are no longer the chaotic, gung-ho outfit which Klopp became renowned for, instead playing a much more measured, controlling game.
And Van den Berg’s passing completion rate of 88.4% bodes well for the teenager, bettered only by Van Dijk’s 89.7%.
Gomez is closely behind on 87.5%, followed Matip on 86.9% and Lovren with 86.6%.
The Netherland’s Under-19 international is yet to score or provide an assist in senior club football, although Liverpool’s centre-backs rarely chipped in with goals last term.
Van Dijk led the way with four goals and two assists, while Matip and Lovren both notched once in the Premier League.
None of Gomez, who is also yet to score in senior club football, Matip and Lovren provided an assist.