Joe Gomez joined Liverpool at 18-years-old in June 2015 from Charlton Athletic. The transfer was one of the last conducted by former Reds manager Brendan Rogers, for a measly £3.5 million. Liverpool fans are now looking back and thanking their lucky stars that they got the now 21-year-old for such a bargain.
Is Joe Gomez a Key Piece to Liverpool’s Puzzle?
Gomez got his Liverpool career off to a flyer with a sustained run in the first team at the beginning of the 2015/16 season. However, a series of injuries and the prominence of defenders such as Nathaniel Clyne kept the youngster out of the first eleven for the majority of the next season.
Gomez started to get game time under Jurgen Klopp in the FA Cup, starting his first professional game in over a year against Plymouth Argyle. First team opportunities remained few and far between for Gomez until the 2017/18 system. With the long-term absence of Clyne, Gomez cemented his place in the first team at right-back. A strong and powerful defender, Gomez showed his raw talent for defending down the right flank. He also showed a good array of attacking skills too. A good example of this was the pinpoint cross he whipped onto Roberto Firmino’s head in the 4-0 demolition of Arsenal at Anfield last season.
The games at the beginning of the 2017/18 season were enough to show the fans and Klopp what Gomez could do. Another injury would rule him out for the ending of the season, with the defender having to watch from the sidelines as his club fell to defeat in the Champions League final.
The disappointment of the final loss and his absence from the England World Cup squad appears to have not shaken Gomez. He has started every game this season next to Liverpool’s record signing, Virgil van Dijk. It’s fair to say that the 21-year-old has slotted in with ease, picking up a Man of the match award against Leicester and being a part of a defence which has only conceded one goal in four games. Dejan Lovren will be worried and he should be. The Englishman has shown an amount of composure on the ball that the Croat simply does not possess.
As well as this, Gomez has bags of pace as well as the strength and height to deal with powerful strikers such as Marco Arnautovic. This was shown in the opening game of the season. Gomez appears to be improving with every game and even outperformed the ever-impressive van Dijk in the aforementioned Leicester game. The sky appears to be the limit for Joe.
Judgement on Joe
Certainly, if he is allowed a sustained run in the side, Gomez could quickly develop into a world class defender. All he lacks is experience, and with every game, he gains it. Liverpool have suffered from a leaky defence far too often in recent years. This looks set to stop. With a backline consisting of the most expensive defender in the world and the second most expensive keeper, pair that up with two young English talents eager to impress and you get what seems to be an airtight defence.
Gomez’s improvement has certainly aided this defensive solidity. It seems certain that as time goes on he will quickly overtake Dejan Lovren as van Dijk’s first choice partner. He may have had to give up his ‘beach body muscles’ but Gomez has impressed: impressed his manager and the country with his stellar performances. Expect more from the 21-year-old this season, he may just be the extra defensive solidity Liverpool need to challenge for silverware this season.