Liverpool anger Bundesliga club over wantaway defender's future: 'Richard Hughes doesn't even know who he is'

Sepp Van den Berg is so far down the list of Liverpool’s priorities this summer that it’s been suggested by reports in Germany that new sporting director Richard Hughes might not even know who the Dutch defender is. 

Bild reports that Mainz have attempted to engage the Reds in negotiations over the transfer of the 22-year-old but that the lines of communication have effectively gone dead. 

Liverpool have plenty of business to attend to this summer, not least assessing the contract situations of at least three key stars in the shape of Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold. 

New coach Arne Slot needs to make his assessment of the squad, meanwhile, having taken over from Jurgen Klopp.

Factor in the need to replenish the squad with new signings and it becomes apparent that Hughes - as well as FSG’s new CEO of Football Michael Edwards - have plenty going on in their in-trays. 

All that leaves Van den Berg and Mainz in the dark over the player’s future. 

Van den Berg excelled on loan with the Bundesliga outfit last season, playing 35 times and chipping in with three goals. 

Mainz want Van den Berg

Mainz narrowly avoided relegation in a miracle escape and Van den Berg was one of the few bright spots in the campaign. 

German reports claim that Mainz would like to add the former PEC Zwolle player on a permanent basis and even stated that a deal for €5 million, as well as the right of first refusal, had been written into the initial loan deal. 

Those reports have been refuted by sources on Merseyside, who instead claim the Reds will seek £20m for the Dutch under-21 international. 

Van den Berg, under contract until 2026, is understood to be furious with the club and has accused Liverpool of blocking his development. 

“They haven't radiated confidence in me all this time, but they do want to hinder my future," he told De Telegraaf. "I want to keep playing weekly and develop myself further.”

However, with only two weeks to go before Mainz regather for pre-season, Bild states that they cannot get an answer from Anfield about Van den Berg. 

"The new sports boss Richard Hughes has more important issues right now than a player who was loaned to Germany - I'm not even sure if he even knows Sepp van den Berg,” a source told the German publication. 

Van den Berg in demand this summer

Van den Berg, a right back and centre back by trade, joined Liverpool as a 17-year-old back in 2019 from PEC Zwolle - where Slot was previously a coach. 

He has been unable to make a breakthrough at Anfield during his senior career however, experiencing loans at Schalke and Preston North End before his outstanding one-season loan deal with Mainz in the Bundesliga. 

It’s by no means certain that Mainz will be his destination though with Southampton, Brentford and Wolfsburg all reported to be interested. 

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