Georginio Wijnaldum

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Report: Liverpool signs Dutch teen Sepp van den Berg

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According to a report by Matt Law of The Telegraph, Liverpool has secured the $2 million signing of 17-year-old center-back Sepp van den Berg from Dutch club PEC Zwolle.

The report states that van den Berg is set for a medical with the club on Wednesday and that the Reds beat Bayern Munich and Ajax to the deal. It also states that Sampdoria was unsuccessful with a larger bid of $2.9 million back in January, and Liverpool has pounced with van den Berg set to enter the final year of his contract.

While van den Berg was a member of the PEC Zwolle first team last season, making 15 Eredivisie appearances and racking up 901 league minutes, the report states that van den Berg will take a season to integrate himself to the new squad and surroundings before challenging for a first-team spot with Liverpool. However, according to a report by the BBC, there is “belief” that van den Berg could potentially earn himself a place on the Liverpool first team that currently sports Virgil Van Dijk, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, and Dejan Lovren at his position.

It will help van den Berg immensely that Liverpool already sports Dutch international defender van Dijk as part of the roster as well as another current Dutch international in Georginio Wijnaldum. The youngster is currently a starter on the Dutch U-19 squad that narrowly missed out on qualification for the U-19 Euros later this summer, finishing a point behind Spain for the Group 4 lead after a brutal 1-0 loss to Spain back in March on a 90th minute goal.

Van den Berg would constitute Liverpool’s first signing of the summer should he join, with the Reds at this point not expected to be major players for any significantly large deals this summer.

Liverpool believe European glory can be start of golden generation

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MADRID — Everyone connected with Liverpool believe they deserve to be Champions of Europe. Every season. And they are, once again.

But the message from Jurgen Klopp and his players after they won the UEFA Champions League by beating Tottenham in Madrid on Saturday was clear.

This is only the start.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned

With ‘Allez, Allez, Allez’ ringing in everyone’s ears over the past 12 months, Liverpool’s fans urged their team towards, as they say, conquering Europe, after being runners up in cruel fashion last season.

This time around Liverpool won their sixth European Cup as they edged to victory in a far from silky display. But who remembers how you won the trophy? They have now won twice as many European Cups as the next English club (bitter rivals Manchester United have three) and Liverpool’s love affair with Europe goes on. And so will that famous song.

From Paris down to Turkey (and now via Madrid), they have, indeed, won the f****** lot. But they want more.

[ MORE: All of the UCL final news ]

Klopp was asked about being in the final in Istanbul next season, the site of Liverpool’s famous European success in 2005, and his message was echoed by his players.

“We will carry on. We will win and we want to win things,” Klopp said. “This is only the start for this group. We still have a wonderful age group and the all have their best times in their careers ahead of them.”

[ MORE: Klopp reacts

Virgil Van Dijk, who was once again a colossus at center back and was named Man of the Match, was asked by Pro Soccer Talk about dominating European soccer for the years to come.

Wearing his winners medal around his neck and swigging on a beer, he smiled when thinking about the glory of nights like this in Madrid.

“We should be hungry anyway but the season with Liverpool ended today. We won the Champions League. Something that we definitely wanted. But I think in July when we start again, everyone starts on nil. Everyone is working towards their goals. We want a chance to win every trophy possible,” van Dijk said. “We have the squad for it. Hopefully we can challenge Man City again next season for the title. They aren’t going anywhere and we aren’t going anywhere either. In the Champions League we just need to be three years in a row the final. It is something we hope to be in every year. We know how difficult it is to reach it. We are all ambitious. We all want to have these kind of nights a couple of times a year. So let’s just go for it. Work hard. Stay humble. Let’s keep moving forward.”

The players wandered through the mixed zone celebrating, with Alisson holding the trophy, Salah chatting with huge groups and Klopp even made an appearance as he celebrated by jogging around his players.

Jubilation was in the air, but so too was a focus about what is to come.

Mohamed Salah, who scored the first goal from the penalty spot early on, was adamant better things are ahead for this Liverpool side under Klopp.

Not just in Europe, but also in the Premier League.

“It is the start for us, honestly it is the start for us,” Salah said. “This is the first competition [we’ve won] and this is the first season we can say we’ve been fighting for the Premier League, while fighting for the Champions League. This year was the first year we fight for the Premier League and we lost it by just one point which was also against Man City, and for them it was well deserved. The average age is 26, 27 and we also have lots of young players. It is a good experience for us to win a trophy now, and also last season how we learned from it. As you can see today we were more calm. We scored a second goal after the 86th minute, so we were calmer in the game.”

Staying calm in the pressure cooker situation in Madrid was not easy. The intense heat in the coupled with the expectation of being the heavy favorites was tough for Liverpool to handle. And an early goal made their task a little tougher as they sat back and soaked up Spurs pressure, then eventually struck the clinched on one of their many counter attacks.

All week long in Madrid Liverpool’s fans have been rolling into the Spanish capital, outnumbering Tottenham comfortably as their global appeal is clear for all to see. Following on from the glory of winning four European Cups in eight seasons from 1977 to 1984, Liverpool’s last win came in 2005 and they’ve now had to wait another 14 years for the next glorious win to arrive.

But that feeling of entitlement that they are supposed to dominate Europe has never left. And now it will carry on.

Now Virgil van Dijk, Alisson, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino, Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Divock Origi and Trent Alexander-Arnold have etched their names into Liverpool history.

A new golden generation has arrived, and the most worrying thing for Liverpool’s rivals is that they, as the song ends, are “never going to stop.”

Saturday night in Madrid has the potential to be the start of a glorious run of trophies and European dominance for Liverpool.

Success in Europe is something which seeps into every pore of the club and a new generation is about to try and replicate previous domination.

“Hopefully that is the first of many trophies this squad can win,” veteran midfielder James Milner said. “It will be nice to go into Melwood and see number six next to the European Cup. The club has got such great history. When I signed for the club I was desperate to add trophies to it. It expects to win trophies. It has an amazing history but we want to create our own history as well. We’ve started that tonight and we’ve put one on the board. I’m delighted for the players and the manager. That is what we all came here for. I think when I was at Man City, when we won the first FA Cup it was massive for us, the belief and that winning mentality and to know that you can do it. Hopefully this will be the same and we can enjoy it as long as we can. But we all know we come back preseason and everything is forgotten and we have to go again.”

With a Champions League trophy with them on their flight back to Liverpool and for the trophy parade, the term “we go again” now means much more.

“Sometimes we carry the burden of history,” Klopp smiled as he was asked about winning back-to-back titles in Istanbul next season.

Now, they are making their own history and they’ve cemented their spot as a legendary Liverpool side.

Liverpool and Tottenham player ratings for Champions League final

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The play on the field was ugly at times, but Liverpool emerged victorious from a highly anticipated, all-Premier League Champions League final with a 2-0 victory.

With the completion of the full 90 minutes comes the beginning of postgame analysis, and with that we bring you our instant reaction. First up is the player ratings, as we run through every player who stepped on the pitch for both sides. Who do you think played well and who didn’t?

Liverpool

Alisson – 8
A Man of the Match candidate for the Reds, Alisson made a whopping eight saves throughout the match, standing strong through the final 15 minutes as Heung-Min Son and Lucas Moura both made solid efforts on net. Easily the difference from last year’s final defeat to this year, with ghosts of Loris Karius‘s mistakes officially vanquished.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7
His distribution was woeful – finishing a dismal 8-28 passing – but he was a beast at the back, leading the match with 10 ball recoveries and tackling well on the left.

Virgil Van Dijk – 8
Probably the best player on the pitch, van Dijk put his stamp on the game with a blistering recovery to stop a late chance for Son down the left edge of the penalty area. His five headed clearances led anyone on either side in the match. Spurs attack had nothing to offer the game, and van Dijk was a big reason why.

Joel Matip – 8
Doesn’t get the plaudits that van Dijk does, but deserves them for his performance today. Collected a whopping 14 clearances – eight more than anyone else on the field – and assisted Origi’s goal. Was a monster along the back line.

Andrew Robertson – 7.5
Along with Alexander-Arnold, Robertson picked up a game-high 10 ball recoveries, and his distribution was far better at alleviating pressure than his right-back counterpart. Kept Spurs centrally located for the center-backs to do their thing.

Fabinho – 6
The Brazilian barely had a touch of the ball all match, and his distribution was quite mistake-prone, but he was able to funnel the Spurs attackers down the middle and pinch them into tight areas. Overall, did enough to win the game.

Jordan Henderson – 7
The captain deserved to lift the trophy, moving back to tackle strongly – 3-for-4 in the game, including a 3-for-3 mark in the defensive half – and helped carry the ball forward. Ran his tail off.

Georginio Wijnaldum – 5
Hardly influential on the match, Wijnaldum had a 100% passing rate – a rarity in the game – but it came on just 12 attempts. Needed more from the Dutchman for Liverpool to really put its stamp on the match.

Mohamed Salah – 5
Kept his cool on the early goal, but otherwise was completely invisible. He hardly touched the ball outside the Tottenham box, and when he did it often flowed backwards. Was not a factor in the game after his powerful 2nd minute spot-kick.

Sadio Mane – 6
Looked Liverpool’s most dangerous attacker, which isn’t saying much. He was dangerous when he had the ball, but never truly threatened on net. Earned the Liverpool penalty with a smart chip that looked halfway intentional, and came close to creating some innovative chances, but nothing else came to fruition for Mane after the handball 21 seconds in.

Roberto Firmino – 3
Usually a smart player who uses his pace and spacial awareness to trouble back lines, Firmino was utterly invisible. Whether that’s down to a lack of fitness or simply a poor performance, it’s hard to truly say, but he was useless and came off for eventual goalscorer Divock Origi.

Substitutes:

James Milner – 5
Didn’t have much to do but defend, which he did well with three clearances in his half-hour of play.

Divock Origi – 5.5
His goal was spectacular, a perfectly placed effort through the legs of a defender, past the goalkeeper’s outstretched hand, and tucked into the far corner. Otherwise, he had a heavy touch and struggled to influence the game, but he came up big when it mattered most.

Joe Gomez – n/a

Tottenham Hotspur

Hugo Lloris – 5.5
The Frenchman made one key stop, tipping Andy Robertson‘s long-range effort over the bar acrobatically, but that was the only save he would make. Guessed right on Salah’s penalty, but couldn’t get to the strong effort. Organized his back line well.

Danny Rose – 8
Tottenham’s best player in the match. Defended well to keep Mo Salah a non-factor and was powerful going forward. Completed four take-ons down the left and was 35-of-40 passing, quite a number for a match that featured such sloppiness. Created three chances as well in truly a two-way performance.

Jan Vertonghen – 7.5
A gutsy performance from Vertonghen who was injured midway through the match but stayed on through the final whistle. Distributed forward well and defended strongly, blocking two shots as well.

Toby Alderweireld – 6
Struggled with his long balls, but collected six clearances and kept Firmino and Salah locked down. Was nutmegged on Origi’s goal, never a good look for a defender.

Kieran Trippier – 6.5
He struggled down the stretch with a hamstring problem, gutting it out to the final whistle but clearly hampered. Created two chances in the final few minutes, and overall defended quite well, but wasn’t truly able to make the match his own like Rose.

Moussa Sissoko – 4
Penalized for the handball early on, an unlucky and harsh moment with his hand raised looking to organize his teammates behind him. Still, the switched-off moment defined the rest of the game. Passing was decent, but wasn’t truly able to take control of the midfield, and his marauding runs forward were nowhere to be found. Came off with 16 minutes to go struggling with injury.

Harry Winks – 6
Unlucky to be sacrificed for Lucas Moura after 66 minutes, as he put in a good shift coming in after missing nearly two months with an injury. Didn’t look completely fit, but was a controlling factor in the middle of the pitch where the game seemed to otherwise devolve.

Dele Alli – 5
Was all over the field, able to flow freely, but did not have the final product as Spurs struggled mightily in the final third. Seemed to fade as the match went on, and wasn’t ever truly on the same page with his teammates.

Christian Eriksen – 4
If this was his Real Madrid audition, he failed miserably. Spurs’ most important player had nothing to offer the match, and while he was able to contribute a bit in desperation time, it was too little too late. His characteristic creativity was missing entirely, and teammates like Harry Kane suffered greatly as a result.

Heung-Min Son – 5
Gave it his usual 110% effort, but just didn’t have close to his best on the biggest match of the season. Was just 1/5 on one-on-one take-ons, where Son is usually one of the best in the game. He had three of Spurs’ eight shots on target, but none of them truly troubled Alisson until the end of the game when the Liverpool goalkeeper came up big. A forgettable performance from the Spurs attack as a whole.

Harry Kane – 4
Invisible the entire match, many blamed it on a lack of fitness after missing the last two months, but the poor play from Eriksen and Son contributed just as much – if not more – to his inability to find the ball. Kane had just 11 touches in the first half, less than anyone else on the pitch, and nothing changed after the break. Kane finished with just one shot on the match, and Spurs failed to find the back of the net.

Substitutes:

Lucas Moura – 5
Did his best to be the hero again, but his two chances on net were thwarted. Wasn’t able to get on the ball and be a creative influence with Eriksen and Son struggling.

Eric Dier 5
Played the final 16 minutes in place of the injured Sissoko and helped secure the middle of the pitch as Spurs pushed forward in desperation.

Fernando Llorente – n/a
Eight minutes of time wasn’t enough to find any heroics.

Klopp: ‘It means so much’ to Liverpool players

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Few fans and pundits gave Liverpool even a half a chance to come back and tie Barcelona, better yet win the match in regulation. And yet, that’s what Liverpool did.

Following Liverpool’s 4-0 win over Barcelona to advance to the UEFA Champions League Final, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp praises his team for their fight, effort, and heart to multiple media outlets.

The whole game was too much. It was overwhelming,” Klopp said to BT Sport following the match. “We played against maybe the best team in world. Winning is difficult but winning with a clean sheet, I don’t know they did it. It’s unbelievable.

“I saw James Milner crying on the pitch after the game. It means so much to all of us. It’s the best phase of football. There are more important things in the world. But creating this emotional atmosphere together is so special. It’s all about the players.

“The mix of potential and unbelievable heart is just a mix I never saw before. You have to be confident in a game like this. Divock and Shaq didn’t play a lot. Putting a performance in like that, it was so important. It shows what’s possible in football. It’s so nice. It’s really nice.”

Despite many Liverpool fans feeling miserable after Barcelona’s 3-0 first leg win, Klopp was feeling confident. He seemed to know that if Liverpool could just be a little more clinical, they’d be just fine. It turns out he was right.

Liverpool didn’t just play heavy metal soccer with a high line for the first 15 minutes of the game, it played that way for all 90 minutes, and Barcelona couldn’t keep up.

“Things got on top of us after those two quick goals,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde told reporters. “We didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet and they rolled us over really. It’s a terrible result for our fans and for ourselves. It’s really, really unfortunate, but credit to Liverpool.

“We tried to sit a little bit deeper, but the tie ended for us with the fourth goal. We couldn’t respond.”

But even with Liverpool on the front foot all night, Klopp admitted it took some ingenuity and creativity to break Barcelona down. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s quick thinking and both of Divock Origi’s finishes took both skill and a confident mentality, while Georginio Wijnaldum showcased the never-say-die attitude that is a hallmark of Klopp’s sides.

“We had to be serious,” Klopp said. “But we needed to be cheeky as well. It was necessary. Barcelona defend predictable things well. But you need to be unpredictable at moments. I saw the ball flying in the goal, I didn’t see the corner. I didn’t see who took the corner. Ben Woodburn said ‘what happened?’”

Liverpool complete epic comeback v. Barcelona, reach UCL final (video)

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Jurgen Klopp wanted Tuesday evening to be a celebration for Liverpool. He certainly got that, and then some.

Against all odds, Liverpool completed an incredible comeback, defeating La Liga champions Barcelona 4-0 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate to advance to the UEFA Champions League final, with fringe players making absolutely key contributions. Divock Origi, a backup for most of the season, scored a brace, including the game-winner, and Georginio Wijnaldum, who came on at halftime, scored twice in two minutes to put Liverpool level on aggregate.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Barcelona had no answer for Liverpool’s energy and the Anfield atmosphere, which was electric all night. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and co. all had their chances, but Liverpool goalkeeper Allison made five saves and came up huge in the first half. Liverpool today was more clinical than Barcelona, and in the end, even a reserve-laden side was clearly better on the night than the Spanish giants.

For Liverpool, it’s back to back appearances in the UEFA Champions League final, where they’ll meet either Tottenham or Ajax. Should Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino be fit for that June 1 date in Madrid, the Reds will certainly be favorites.

It took just six minutes for Liverpool to find the game’s first goal. With Sadio Mane running in on goal, he played Jordan Henderson into the box. Henderson’s shot was saved by Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen but it was parried right into the path of Origi, who made no mistake from six yards out.

With the lead and the wind at its back, Liverpool pushed forward looking for more, leaving plenty of space in behind for Barcelona to exploit. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba all had chances on goal but time and time again in the first half, Alisson came up huge. Like Liverpool in the first leg, Barcelona on the road couldn’t find its finishing touch.

In the second half yet again, it took less than 10 minutes for Liverpool to score again. After Trent Alexander-Arnold misplaced a pass, he won the ball back from Alba and dribbled down the right wing. Alexander-Arnold’s cross took a slight deflection and ended at the feet of Wijnaldum, who had only been introduced to the field at halftime.

Like a lightning bolt, Wijnaldum raced onto the ball and fired a strike at goal, one that ter Stegen got a hand to but couldn’t keep out.

Two minutes later, with Liverpool pushing Barcelona to its limits, Wijnaldum tied the score on aggregate. Xherdan Shaqiri, who hasn’t seen much of the field until recently this season, whipped in a glorious cross into the box. Wijnaldum, in the 66th minute, was the only one to rise, met the ball at his apex and headed it into the top corner to send the Anfield crowd into hysterics.

Klopp’s side weren’t finished though. In the 79th minute, Alexander-Arnold looked to be leaving the ball for a teammate to take a corner kick. However, he noticed that Barcelona had lost its focus and ran back to the ball and fired a low cross into Origi. The Belgian met it and first-timed a strike into the side netting to amazingly put Liverpool in the lead.

Over the final 11 minutes plus stoppage time, the Reds held on and secured a most famous win at Anfield, and a ticket to Madrid for the Champions League Final.