Liverpool have confirmed their first signing of the summer, with teenage defender Sepp van den Berg joining from PEC Zwolle.
The 17-year-old centre-back arrives at Anfield for an initial fee of £1.3m (€1.5m/$1.7m) after the Reds saw off competition from Bayern Munich, Ajax and PSV to land the highly-rated Dutch under-19 international.
Liverpool have also agreed £3.1m (€3.5m/$4m) worth of add-ons, which will be activated should Van den Berg establish himself as a first-team regular at the club.
Sources have told Goal that those add-ons relate to Premier League and Champions League appearances, and that the maximum cost of the deal to Liverpool, which would require the player to make close to 350 starts, is £4.4m (€4.9m/$5.6m).
The deal will be formally completed on July 1.
“It’s just an amazing feeling," Van den Berg told the official Liverpool website. “It is, for me, the biggest club in the world and it’s a dream come true. I am really excited.
“I’ve seen what kind of players from the Academy grew into the first team here. It is unbelievable, especially when this kind of big club does that.
“Of course, the trainer [Jürgen Klopp] is a great guy and one of the reasons they are successful – and also one of the reasons I came here.
“I think this is the best place for me to grow and hopefully play a lot of games here.”
"I’ve seen what kind of players from the Academy grew into the first team here. It is unbelievable, especially when this kind of big club does that." ✊ pic.twitter.com/Uep7fwEtTM— Liverpool FC (@LFC) June 27, 2019
Van den Berg, who has made 22 senior appearances for Zwolle in the Eredivisie since his debut in March 2018, is expected to start life in Liverpool’s academy, with a view to moving him into the first-team ‘development group’ should he impress.
The Reds enjoyed significant success with another young Dutchman, Ki-Jana Hoever, after signing him from Ajax last season. Hoever progressed swiftly from under-18s football to the under-23s, and in January became the third-youngest debutant in the club’s history when featuring against Wolves in the FA Cup third round.
Liverpool sources have told Goal that Van den Berg, meanwhile, is viewed similarly to Joe Gomez when he signed for the Reds from Charlton in 2015. Gomez established himself quickly in Brendan Rodgers’ side, but there is an acceptance that Van den Berg is joining a more developed team and that patience will be required.
Liverpool’s academy setup will welcome the arrival of a specialist centre-back, having seen a host of defenders leave the club over the summer. The likes of Juanma, Connor Randall, Conor Masterson and Corey Whelan were all released, while teenage Finn Patrik Raitanen has joined Fortuna Sittard on a four-year deal.
Van den Berg, who stands at 6' 3", will hope to play some part in the first-team’s packed pre-season schedule, with the eight-day tour of the USA next month perhaps to offer an immediate chance to bed in to his new club.