Michael Edwards could lose star he brought to Liverpool due to clause inserted after he left

Sepp van den Berg and Diogo Jota of Liverpool just back at training at AXA Training Centre on July 11, 2023 in Kirkby, England.
-Credit: (Image: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Liverpool has used the reset provided by the departure of Jürgen Klopp to overhaul its recruitment operation, with Michael Edwards returning to the FSG fold. But the new CEO of football could end up being thwarted by a clause inserted in his absence.

In his previous role as sporting director (a post Richard Hughes is now set to fill), Edwards directly oversaw Liverpool's transfer business. Klopp had a growing influence, which ultimately led to 'robust' discussions, but the data guru takes significant credit for major signings including Mohamed Salah.

In 2019, the Liverpool side he had helped to construct was approaching its zenith, having just won the Champions League. It would secure the Premier League title the following season.

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There was some surprise that Liverpool opted not to significantly strengthen from its position of strength. Having added Fabinho and Alisson the summer prior, 2019 was a very quiet transfer window, with Edwards only adding Takumi Minamino, Sepp van den Berg, Adrián and Andy Lonergan — the latter two being reserve goalkeepers on free transfers.

Only Minamino has gone on to play any real part in Liverpool's subsequent success — although 'Adrian! Like Rocky' will forever be an iconic part of the Super Cup success. But with the Spanish goalkeeper out of contract in the summer as things stand, Van den Berg could be the last signing standing.

Liverpool paid an initial $1.65m (£1.3m/€1.5m) for his services from PEC Zwolle (a former team of Arne Slot, incidentally), so it was hardly a high-risk transfer. He has yet to make an impact at Anfield, having spent each of the last three seasons out on loan, but he is still only 22.

And after an injury-hit spell with Schalke last season, he had more of an opportunity to impress with Mainz this time around. In a poetic moment, his final-day goal helped Klopp's old side escape relegation from the Bundesliga.

Van den Berg has impressed more generally across the course of the season, even in a struggling side. With Liverpool a man or two light at the back, Edwards' 2019 signing could end up being a potential solution for Slot.

However, Kicker in Germany reports that a clause was written into Van den Berg's loan to Mainz. Described as a 'right of first refusal', it may not be a straightforward option to buy, although the report suggests it would enable the Bundesliga club to complete a deal for 'less than $5.4m (£4.3m/€5m)'.

Edwards, of course, had left Liverpool by the time Van den Berg's latest loan was agreed. And with the defender starting to come good on the promise the club spotted in 2019, he may well be hoping that the clause inserted into that deal does not give Mainz the right to complete such a cut-price deal. says: Aerially dominant and surprisingly quick across the ground, Van den Berg has taken major strides at Mainz. He looks ready for a go at Premier League level.

That may not be at Liverpool, with the likes of Jarell Quansah emerging in his absence. But Slot should at least get the chance to run the rule over his compatriot, with whom he was technically clubmates during the defender's earliest days in the youth system.

If Liverpool did include a release clause set at such a low price, it looks like something of an oversight. If Van den Berg is to leave Anfield this summer, he would probably fetch at least that amount in the open market.