Middlesbrough have announced the signing of Rav van den Berg from PEC Zwolle. The 18-year-old Dutch defender joins the Championship club on a four-year deal after experiencing a successful spell with Zwolle. Four years ago, his older brother Sepp van den Berg made the move from PEC Zwolle to Liverpool.
Last season Rav featured 21 times for PEC Zwolle, who finished second in the Eerste Divisie to gain automatic promotion to the Eredivisie. Van den Berg is a Netherlands U20 international. The 6ft 3in defender is seen as one of the best emerging young defenders in European football. Borussia Dortmund, Brentford, AC Milan and AS Roma were all previously interested in Van den Berg. Now he’ll be playing at the Riverside Stadium next season.
Middlesbrough finished fourth in the Championship last season. The side managed by Michael Carrick, narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League following defeat to Coventry in the playoff semi-finals. Rav van den Berg could be a brilliant signing for Middlesbrough heading into the new campaign.
PEC Zwolle’s technical director, Marcel Boudesteyn has admitted that he didn’t want to let the young centre-back leave. ‘Rav is a young, talented player who we would have liked to have kept here longer. We also made several attempts to keep him in Zwolle after next season, but Rav was determined to go abroad.’ At Middlesbrough, Rav van den Berg will be competing for promotion to the Premier League. Speaking about his decision to move abroad, the youngster said ‘I consciously chose to go abroad. The English league really appeals to me, especially from what I’ve seen with my brother.’