Preston loan star Sepp van den Berg can't help but fall in love with North End

Sepp van den Berg believes his spell playing as a wing-back has helped him become a more rounded player.

By Craig Salmon
Thursday, 18th November 2021, 1:19 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th November 2021, 1:20 pm

The Dutch star arrived at North End in the January transfer window this year on loan from Liverpool.

Very much billed as a centre-half, the 19-year-old was thrust into a unfamiliar right wing-back role by previous PNE boss Alex Neil last season.

Armed with athleticism and high energy, it was certainly a role which the Dutchman had the physical capabilities to carry out.

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Sepp van den Berg

His performances in the position were such that when Frankie McAvoy took over, he kept him as his first-choice right wing-back until the end of the campaign.

And when the new PNE manager thrashed out a deal with Reds boss Jurgen Klopp to bring him back to Deepdale in the summer on loan, he continued wide on the right for the start of the season.

While happy to do a job for the team in whatever position he is asked, Van den Berg has always maintained that his favoured position is centre-half.

In recent games he has been afforded the opportunity to play more centrally for North End – on the right-hand side of a back three.

Van den Berg admits he is pleased to have been handed an opportunity at centre-half, but that’s not to say he has not enjoyed his spell at wing-back.

“I have been a centre-back my whole life,” said Van den Berg, who began his career with PEC Zwolle before signing for Liverpool in 2019 for a fee which could rise to more than £4m.

“I was a centre-back when I joined Liverpool and before that.

“I know that is my preferred position, but playing wing-back helped me in situations such as one-versus-one.

“It has helped me be quicker in small spaces.

“I think if you try out different positions, it develops you as a player.

“Playing wing-back is much more intense – you have to be going up and down the wing – sprinting, whereas at centre-back, you’re constantly on the move but there is more thinking involved.

“When I play wing-back, of course there is a game plan and tactics, but it’s more about giving my all and running.

“At centre-back you have to think about strikers dropping in or covering the wing-back.

“It is totally different. I do like both positions but I think centre-back is more me.

“But playing at wing-back has certainly helped me. It has given me confidence and experience because I hadn’t played in the Championship before.”

Van den Berg has certainly made an impression in his short time at North End and has become a firm favourite amongst the supporters.

The youngster admits he is thoroughly enjoying his time with the Lilywhites and has fallen in love with the club.

“I really like it here,” he said. “All the staff and players are really nice so I really do feel at home.

“When you play the games and you see that the fans like you as well, it gives me a nice feeling.

“If you are liked, I am a guy who values that very highly.

“It makes me feel at home straight away. I am falling in love with this club and just really enjoying it.”

Van den Berg – who was on international duty with the Dutch Under-21s over the past week – will be hoping to keep his place at centre-back for the visit of Cardiff City to Deepdale.

The Bluebirds are struggling at the moment and are currently just two places and three points above the relegation zone in the Championship.

“Cardiff are always a hard opponent,” said Van den Berg, who has made one FA Cup and three League Cup appearances for Liverpool but has yet to feature in the Premier League.

“I remember playing at their place last season and we got beaten.

“The Championship is not easy but I feel with us playing at home, we have to get the three points.”

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