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Liverpool defender 'in talks' over permanent exit after explosive interview

Liverpool defender 'in talks' over permanent exit after explosive interview
© Reuters
Liverpool are reportedly in talks to sell defender Sepp van den Berg to Mainz 05 after the Dutchman accused the Reds of pricing him out of a transfer.

Liverpool have reportedly begun discussions to sell one of their out-of-favour defenders who blasted the club's transfer stance in a recent interview.

Dutchman Sepp van den Berg was poached from the PEC Zwolle academy in the summer of 2019 for just £1.6m, joining Jurgen Klopp's ranks as a highly-rated 17-year-old.

However, Van den Berg's move to Anfield has not worked out as intended, as the 22-year-old played just four times for the senior team during the Klopp era, each of which came in the 2019-20 season.

Since his most recent competitive Liverpool appearance in a February 2020 FA Cup win over Shrewsbury Town, the closest that the Dutchman has come to another first-team outing is making the bench in each of the first four Premier League games of the 2022-23 season.

Amid his failure to compete with the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Jarell Quansah and Ibrahima Konate, Van den Berg has been loaned out three times, appearing for Preston North End, Schalke 04 and most recently Mainz 05.

Sepp van den Berg warms up for Liverpool in August 2022© Reuters

Mainz 'optimistic' of Van den Berg agreement

The 2023-24 season at Mainz was an extremely successful one for Van den Berg, who scored three goals and kept eight clean sheets in 33 top-flight games to help the club retain their Bundesliga status.

The Dutchman is due back at Anfield this summer, where his contract runs for another two years, but he recently hit out at the Merseyside giants for pricing him out of a move away with their €20m (£16.9m) demands.

However, with the 22-year-old's yearning for an exit now stronger than ever, journalist Florian Plettenberg claims that negotiations have now begun to offload Van den Berg to Mainz permanently.

Both the Bundesliga club and the defender are eager to prolong their partnership, although there was no option to buy included in his loan deal, forcing Mainz to negotiate a fee with the Reds.

It is unclear if Liverpool are still holding out for a £16.9m sum for Van den Berg, but Mainz are supposedly optimistic of reaching an agreement in the not-so-distant future.

Van den Berg to follow duo in defensive exodus?

Should an accord be struck between Liverpool and Mainz - who should agree personal terms with Van den Berg without a hitch - the ex-Zwolle youngster could become the third defender to head for the Anfield exit door this summer.

Matip's eight years at Liverpool will officially come to an end when his deal runs out at the end of the month, while injury-plagued right-back Calvin Ramsay has been loaned out to Wigan Athletic.

More rearguard members are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks, including Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams, both of whom memorably played crucial roles in Liverpool's 2020-21 Champions League qualification.

New head coach Arne Slot also has the Van Dijk contract situation to sort out, as the Reds captain could leave as a free agent in 2025 as things stand, and the same goes for Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Regardless of Van Dijk's immediate future, a new centre-back is being targeted for the 2024-25 season, as Van den Berg will seemingly not wait around on the off-chance that he could reignite his Reds career under his compatriot.

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