Liverpool's incoming boss Arne Slot could promote 'next Van Dijk' as fresh start expected

Arne Slot could be the perfect man to nurture one of Liverpool’s top young talents (Image: GETTY)

Arne Slot might be tempted to promote one of Liverpool’s best young defenders to the first-team squad when he joins the Reds in the summer. The current Feyenoord boss is said to be edging closer to replacing Jurgen Klopp at Anfield, with a verbal agreement reportedly in place.

Slot has worked wonders during his time at Feyenoord, leading them to an Eredivisie title last season before masterminding a KNVB Cup triumph earlier this month. He has also found success in nurturing the club’s youth talent, a skill which could make him the right man to promote Sepp van den Berg into Liverpool’s first team.

Van den Berg has always been rated highly at Anfield, having been widely dubbed the ‘next Virgil van Dijk’ upon joining the Reds in 2019. He is spending the campaign on loan at German club Mainz but could be given the chance to shine for Liverpool when Slot replaces Klopp next season.

The defender spent much of his youth career at PEC Zwolle, joining their ranks when Slot was still playing for the club’s senior side in 2012. It is not known if the pair crossed paths at the time but they will almost certainly be familiar with each other given their shared Dutch connection.

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Sepp van den Berg is enjoying a productive loan spell at Mainz this season (Image: GETTY)

Van den Berg has never really had a chance in Liverpool’s first team, with the 22-year-old spending most of his time on loan elsewhere. This season, he has established himself as one of the Bundesliga’s top defenders having played in all but one of Mainz’s league matches.

The Liverpool loanee has won 173 aerial duels, putting him second in that metric for the Bundesliga behind only Heidenheim defender Tim Kleindienst. Van den Berg has also contributed to Mainz keeping seven clean sheets, helping him to be recognised as a shining light in a team with just five wins all season.

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Slot’s ability to extract the best from young players could make him the perfect manager to help Van den Berg ease the transition to senior level at Liverpool. However, it remains to be seen whether he will be given the opportunity to stake his claim or if another loan spell will be arranged over the coming months.

Van den Berg has already outlined his desire to partner Van Dijk at the back for Liverpool, having learned some valuable lessons from his fellow countryman over the years.

Speaking to Fox Sports back in 2019, he said: “Virgil van Dijk, for example, who I can watch, they teach me how to win the Champions League final. That’s football. Everyone helps me. I can learn the most from Van Dijk so if he gives me tips, I’ll save them. If I make a mistake like not stepping up and things like that, it is things you need to know.”

Source: https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/1894211/Liverpool-Arne-Slot-Virgil-van-Dijk