Michael Carrick and Jonathan Woodgate 'have done an amazing job' for Boro star

Rav van den Berg has detailed how much influence Michael Carrick and Jonathan Woodgate have had on his development in his first year at Middlesbrough.

Despite moving to a new country at just 19, the Dutch defender has excelled in his first year at Boro, winning the Player and Young Player of the Year awards. It comes after he turned down some of Europe's elite clubs to move to Boro from PEC Zwolle.

Van den Berg has spoken previously about how the better prospect of playing regular football at the Riverside was a major factor, but he still had to be sold on the Boro project - something that head coach Michael Carrick and assistant Jonathan Woodgate ultimately succeeded in doing during a zoom meeting as a potential transfer was being discussed last summer.

READ MORE: Rav van den Berg reflects on his first year at Middlesbrough and whether it met his expectations

On how important the pair have been for him at Boro, Van den Berg said: “They’ve both played such a big role in my development. They are both the same in how they want to develop a player. Of course, the gaffer thinks about the team as a collective, but he also thinks about the individual as well and how he can develop a player even more. So both of them have done an amazing job for me and I’m really thankful."

On how they influenced his transfer decision, he continued: “I think because I know both played at such a high level - Woody of course in the same position as me as well. I knew I could learn a lot from him. I knew straight away from the first conversation that they were so keen to convince me to come here.

"But they also set out what they could teach me, which was the big difference in what the other clubs did. It was straight after that phone call, I was straight onto my agent and my parents and told them I was convinced about which club I wanted to join."

Being sold on the Boro project was one thing, but undoubtedly playing games was the biggest. Carrick and Woodgate can give the greatest sales pitch known to man but ultimately, nine times out of ten, the majority of players would be choosing the likes of Juventus, AC Milan and Dortmund over Boro. Thankfully for Boro, however, Rav had watched older brother Sepp move to Liverpool in 2019.

The defender said: “I’m lucky because my brother [Sepp] plays football as well. He went to make to a big club [Liverpool], so from him I was able to learn both the good, positive things about doing that, but also the negative things as well. I wanted to play football, so it wasn’t really a hard decision.

"Of course there were some big clubs in, but I wanted to play football and I knew if I went there I wouldn’t be playing in the first team. I had to ask myself, ‘do I want that?’ and I didn’t, so that’s why I came here. This is a big club as well, by the way, but, it’s true, that the clubs that were interested then were some of the biggest."

Those big clubs remain interested in the Dutchman and continue to monitor his development on Teesside closely. Boro are braced for offers this summer but Van den Berg has expressed his happiness to stay, with Boro hoping they can hold onto him this summer.