Liverpool urged to 'play along' as sporting director lifts lid on £20m transfer talks

Sepp van den Berg and Fabio Carvalho of Liverpool during a training session at AXA Training Centre
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Mainz 05 sporting director Christian Heidel has admitted they need to be patient if they are to sign Sepp van den Berg - but has urged Liverpool to ‘play along’.

The Dutchman enjoyed a successful loan stint with the Bundesliga outfit last season, making 35 appearances in all competitions to help them avoid relegation. He has since admitted he wants to leave the Reds, and hit out at their £20m valuation of him.

Heidel recently confirmed that Van den Berg wanted to rejoin Mainz. And speaking to Sky Germany, he’s now offered another update on their pursuit of the defender as he revealed that he had been in regular contact with Liverpool.

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“It’s difficult, I can’t do that,” he said when asked negotiations might get moving again. “We’re waiting. We’ve been in contact with Liverpool several times.

"When Liverpool starts training, there won’t be a central defender there because they’re all spread out at the European Championships and the Copa America and then they want to take a look and take their time.

“Sepp has made it clear that he would really like to stay in Mainz. We would really like to keep him, now Liverpool have to play along too. We’re giving Liverpool the time and we’re taking the time.”

Reports in Germany had recently hit out at Richard Hughes for Van den Berg’s move to Mainz ‘coming to a standstill,’ claiming he didn’t even know who the Dutchman is in a bizarre dig at the new Liverpool sporting director.

Bild quoted a source as saying: “The new sporting boss Richard Hughes has more important issues than a player who was on loan to Germany - I’m not even sure if he even knows Sepp van den Berg.”

Van den Berg is expected back at the AXA Training Centre this week as Liverpool’s pre-season gets underway. While Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez are currently all away competing at Euro 2024, the young Dutchman will be joined by Jarell Quansah, Nat Phillips and Amara Nallo, with the likes of Rhys Williams and Billy Koumetio also still contracted to the club.