Liverpool defender Sepp van den Berg 'definitely' wants to rejoin German side Mainz on a permanent basis.

Van den Berg, 22, spent last season on loan with the Bundesliga club, helping them avoid relegation as he made a total of 35 appearances in all competitions. The Dutch centre-back has two years remaining on his Liverpool contract but Mainz sporting director Christian Heidel has now revealed that the player wants to sign for them permanently in the summer transfer window.

"The only one who has made a decision is Sepp," Heidel told German sports magazine Kicker. "He definitely wants to stay in Mainz. He has said that very clearly in public."

Those comments suggest that a move isn't yet advanced, with Liverpool reportedly demanding £20million for the ex-Netherlands under-21 international. Van den Berg was brought to Anfield as a teenager in 2019, signing from boyhood club PEC Zwolle.

The 22-year-old has been loaned out on three occasions, firstly to Championship side Preston North End and then Schalke, although a serious ankle injury restricted him to just nine appearances last season. Van den Berg fared much better with Mainz and recently suggested that he was ready to leave Liverpool behind.

“I knew that I couldn't get from PEC Zwolle [straight] to Liverpool's first-team," he explained to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. "I could have been at Liverpool for one or two more years, but I wanted to play with all my might. I demanded to be [loaned] out. Every time, because I felt that I was getting better and better. I also made great strides physically.

"Just the whole [first] season. On the one hand, that was great. Yes, how does that work, you're 17, 18 years old, you're central to the defence in training against the starting XI, you have to build up and then Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah come running towards you. It was tough, but I enjoyed it. But in all honesty, I wasn't looked after anymore.

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"I also felt 'ready' [in 2021]. I had a good conversation with the management. He said he had received good reports. I understood that I wasn't going to play [Virgil] Van Dijk, [Joel] Matip or [Ibrahima] Konate out [the team]. But I thought I could be right behind it.

"When I didn't get a chance again, I said, 'Figure it out, I want to leave'. [Liverpool] didn't exude confidence in me all this time, but you do want to hinder my future. I want to keep playing every week and develop myself further.

"In Germany, I enjoy [Borussia] Dortmund away with 70,000 people; Bayern Munich away against Harry Kane; Stuttgart; [RB] Leipzig; [Bayer] Leverkusen, against clubs like that I am challenged every week."

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2024-06-25T04:10:17Z dg43tfdfdgfd