Sepp van den Berg has revealed that a conversation with fellow Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk helped convince him to return to Preston North End on loan this summer.
Last season, van den Berg spent the second half of the campaign on loan at Preston from Liverpool, making 16 appearances for the Championship club.
Following that spell, van den Berg returned to Deepdale earlier this summer, re-signing for Preston on a season-long loan for the 2021/22 campaign.
Now it seems as though van Dijk had a significant role in helping van den Berg to make that decision, convincing him of the importance of competitive game time, despite the prospect of first-team opportunities at Liverpool in pre-season for the 19-year-old.
Explaining how his return to Preston came about in an interview with NOS in his native Netherlands, van den Berg said: “They (Liverpool) were satisfied then (last summer). And hopefully, even more after this year. Actually, the plan was to participate in the preparation with the first team of Liverpool this season, but I thought it was best to be rented out for another year.
“I quickly noticed what big steps you can take in six months of Championship. So I thought: if I play there for another year, I really have a chance at Liverpool.
“He (Van Dijk) asked me how I thought it went at Preston and told me that he thought it was a good choice because making minutes is so important. Who knows, I may be next to him next season. You should always keep dreaming.”
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Since his return to Preston this season, van den Berg has made a further seven appearances in all competitions for the club, scoring two goals in that time.
This does seem to have been a smart decision for van den Berg and van Dijk to have made on the teenager’s future.
While he may have got game time at Liverpool in pre-season, it is hard to imagine that he would have forced his way into Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI once the competitive action had begun.
As a result, another loan move away to ensure he plays regularly and improves his game over the coming months make sense, and Preston seems a sensible destination given he already knows the club.
That is something that now looks to be paying off with the opportunities he is getting at Deepdale, and it will be interesting to see where that takes him further down the line.