RAV van den Berg says the prospect of first team football and the influence of Michael Carrick and Jonathan Woodgate were major factors behind his decision to turn down some of the biggest clubs in Europe to join Middlesbrough.

The centre-half, who turns 19 on Friday, has linked up with his new teammates in Portugal after putting pen to paper on a four-year deal on Teesside.

Van den Berg was wanted by clubs including AC Milan, Roma, Dortmund, Ajax and Bayern Munich, while there was also interest in England from Brentford, but Boro won the race for the teenager after spelling out their first team vision.

There'll be obvious patience from Boro as van den Berg acclimatises to life in the UK and in the Championship but he's part of the first team plans and outlined his hopes in his first interview with the club website.

He said: "There were some very big clubs interested. For me the playing time is important. Middlesbrough is a big club as well.

"There are a lot of games in the Championship, so it's quite good for me to play a lot of games."

The opportunity to play under Carrick and Woodgate was also hugely appealing.

He said: "They have both been great players and how they talk about the game is really interesting to me, so it's one of the many reasons why I joined this club.

"It feels very good (to join). I just met the guys, they are great lads. It's difficult at the beginning but everyone was nice to me. It's really good."

Boro's new boy will be picking the brains of his older brother Sepp, who plays for Liverpool but has Championship experience having spent time on loan at Preston.

Van den Berg, who describes himself as a quick ball-playing centre-half, said: "At the beginning I have to give myself time to adjust but my goal is to play as many games as possible."


The Holland Under-20 international arrives at Boro having helped Zwolle win promotion to the Eredivisie last season. Zwolle wanted to keep van den Berg but admitted defeat when it became clear the defender had his heart set on a move.

Technical director Marcel Boudesteyn said: "Rav is a young, talented player that we would have liked to have kept here longer.

"We also made several attempts to keep him in Zwolle beyond next season, but Rav was determined to go abroad. That means now is also the time for us to transfer him so that the club has a nice transfer fee and he does not leave for free after next season.

"In addition, we have also stipulated a resale percentage. I want to thank Rav for his efforts at PEC Zwolle and wish him every success in England.”