It was only seven short days into Jurgen Klopp’s tenure as Liverpool manager that he relayed the news that Joe Gomez would devastatingly be out for the rest of the season. The 20-year-old was forced off just 10 minutes into his fledgling U21-England career in a game against Kazakhstan. Klopp told reporters when announcing the news:
Gomez came here and I met him for the first time. What a wonderful young boy – tall and muscles in the right positions. From this point on it goes in the other direction and he can count the days until he’s back. He’s a very young guy. It was not the best day in his life, of course. But I’m pretty good at waiting for players, young players especially. This is his home and we will do everything so that he can come back as soon as possible.
It’s clear from this that Klopp rates him and hopefully he will be fit and raring to go come the new season after a gruelling 15-month layoff from the rupturing of his ACL in October 2015.
Gomez returned to action in January 2017 and it will obviously take a while to sort his body and mind out as it can sometimes take a year or more to feel completely 100% after such a demoralising injury. As seen with Danny Ings, if you come back too quick and do too much too quickly, you can have relapses which is the last thing he needs for his career.
Gomez has only just turned 20 in May, but he has a much more mature head on his shoulders in terms of how he plays and handles himself on the pitch. When he broke into the team, he was playing in a more unfavourable left-back position as opposed to his more accustomed centre-half role, and he did remarkably well handling the change in position.
He has become something of a forgotten man and I think people have forgotten just how good he was when he was enjoying his run in the team under Brendan Rodgers. What I noticed most about him was how at ease he was with the ball at his feet. He was rarely perturbed or flustered in possession, this, coupled with his obvious strength and decent turn of pace, made him an exciting prospect.
All these attributes point to him being an excellent centre-half and he could potentially challenge Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip come the new season especially after the Virgil van Dijk debacle and that transfer seemingly being scrapped.
I feel like Gomez can be the type of player that Klopp would love to have at his disposal what with his obvious mentioned qualities and versatility. He could provide competition for Nathaniel Clyne and could even slot back into left-back and be just as effective as James Milner has been there, potentially freeing up Milner to move into midfield when needed.
Gomez is still a baby in terms of how Klopp can help shape and mould him and that is an exciting prospect. There’s been talk of a loan move but if he can get himself back into the shape he was in when Rodgers blooded him into the team, then he can really compete with any of our defenders at either centre-half of any of the full-back positions.
The fact that Maamadou Sakho and Lucas will both almost certainly be moving on, leaves Liverpool a bit short at the back in terms of depth and Gomez could be an excellent understudy if required.
If there is one certainty though; it’s that Gomez will get opportunities at this football club as long as he continues to impress Klopp in training. It needs to be ensured that his comeback is monitored and not rushed, which will hopefully see him return to the level of form that we saw him excelling at not so long ago.