Why Joe Gomez Will Have A Massive Role To Play For Liverpool This Season
The madness of transfer window is finally over and most of the teams have strengthened their squad as per their requirements. Liverpool too have snapped up five signings (four for this campaign as RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita is set to join next summer), but they failed to bring in a centre-back, which was the topmost priority all summer.
Their defensive frailty has cost them big since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival and it is continuing in this new campaign as well – they conceded thrice in the season opener against Watford and looked vulnerable in Champions League playoff fixture against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
The Reds were strongly pursuing a deal for Southampton central defender Virgil Van Dijk for months, which, however, failed to materialise as the Saints reported to Premier League about ‘tapping up’ their prized resource and Liverpool had to issue a public apology to avoid further ramification.
The Dutchman handed in a transfer request in order to force a move away from St. Mary’s but Southampton took a strong stance and did not let him leave despite his unwillingness to feature again for the Hampshire outfit.
Klopp, although he missed out on his prime summer transfer target, decided not to line up a bid for any alternative, and opted to prefer youngster Joe Gomez for this crucial campaign. The 20-year-old Englishman is immensely talented and came back strongly after two years of misfortune when he was forced to remain sidelined with a significant knee injury.
Liverpool, however, will be concentrating on four major tournaments this season including the prestigious Champions League competition. But their central defence looks extremely thin as there is not enough quality barring Joel Matip who has shown some consistency since joining the Reds last summer. Dejan Lovren is error-prone and Estonian Ragnar Klavan is only good as a backup option. Hence, the youngster will have his opportunities to impress the boss and be an integral part of his long-term plans.
Gomez, now 20, was brought in a couple of years back by former boss Brendan Rodgers, following an impressive spell with Charlton Athletic. Despite being a regular under Rodgers, his career hit a new low within a couple of months of his dream debut and suffered a season ending injury while on international duty.
Rodgers was sacked in the meantime and the player was only able to join Klopp’s project last season where he mostly played with the reserves and appeared in a few cup games only. There were talks of loaning him out for this campaign, but he was determined to prove his worth and stayed put after impressing Klopp during pre-season.
“There’s nothing I’d rather do more than play for Liverpool. I’d pick this option all day.” (liverpoolfc.com)
Gomez is now enjoying a scintillating inception of the new campaign in the absence of right-back Nathaniel Clyne. The Englishman is capable of playing in multiple defensive roles and is now being rotated with teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold for that right-back slot.
He has already made four appearances altogether this term and helped his side register two consecutive league clean-sheets, against Crystal Palace and heavyweights Arsenal. Gomez was majestic against the Gunners with his balanced display and his resurgence has earned him an international call-up for England U21s where he has been elected as the skipper.
Clyne’s injury seems to be a serious one as he has not been selected for Champions League group stage fixtures. Gomez thus has become a key figure in Klopp’s squad, and will have enough game-time to re-establish himself as a first-team regular.