Liverpool U23 coach Barry Lewtas has paid tribute to the “brilliant” Sepp van den Berg and Billy Koumetio for countering the threat of Ellis Simms during Monday’s 1-1 draw with Everton, speaking to the Reds’ website.
With clubs in Belgium, Germany and Switzerland holding talks over a January loan deal for the talented young centre-back, Van den Berg may have donned that iconic red shirt for the last time this season (Goal).
And if this was his final appearance in Liverpool’s Premier League 2 campaign, what a way to bow out.
Van den Berg was the stand-out performer as Lewtas’s team bounced back from Rhys Hughes’ second-minute opener to claim a point in the derby, 18-year-old Tyler Morton netting the equaliser.
“Sepp was fantastic, he really was. He was brilliant in terms of his defending and the way we built from the back and played,” Lewtas said of the Dutchman, who caught the eye of Bayern Munich before joining Liverpool from PEC Zwolle for £1.7 million.
“We went through Sepp a lot (building attacks). In fairness to him, he has been a real consistent performer for us so we’re really pleased with where he is at the moment.
“He is full of confidence and playing at a really consistent level.”
Lewtas believes Van den Berg’s composure and confidence was key to forging a fine partnership with Koumetio at centre-half.
As such, the usually prolific Simms, who has scored eight times in 12 games this season, endured a rare off day.
“I think Sepp’s calmness, and maybe where he is at the moment with his consistency, certainly helped Billy settle into the game,” Lewtas adds.
“I thought Billy was really good and I was pleased with some of his moments in the game because Ellis Simms is a tough number nine to play against. He’s quick, he scores goals, he’s physical and I thought Sepp and Billy dealt with that threat really well.”
19-year-old Van den Berg hasn’t played a single first-team minute in 2020/21 despite an injury crisis that forced Jurgen Klopp to give Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams the odd run-out.