Liverpool kick off their Premier League campaign at Anfield against West Ham this Sunday at 1:30 GMT.
In what promises to be an exciting Premier League campaign, Liverpool fans will be licking their lips at the thought of seeing Alisson Becker, Fabinho, Naby Keita and possibly even Xherdan Shaqiri making their Liverpool Premier League debuts.
Lost in all this excitement is the news that 21-year-old centre-back Joe Gomez is in line to start against the Hammers, making his long-awaited Premier League debut in his preferred position.
A welcome option amid thin ranks
With Dejan Lovren freshly back from the World Cup and questions over the fitness of Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan, Gomez looks set to finally play in his natural position after a season of deputizing on the right side in place of an injured Nathaniel Clyne.
In a campaign that saw the rise of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson, and the £75 million arrival of Virgil van Dijk, it can be easy for fans to forget the immense potential that Gomez displayed. Prior to his injury, he was arguably one of Liverpool’s best defenders in the first half of the season.
Playing out of position at right-back, Gomez was able to utilize his natural pace to get involved in attacks, picking up two assists. But his most impressive action came in his own half, where he helped make the right side of defense formidable when called upon.
Klopp has called upon Gomez at centre-back in three previous FA Cup games — a home-and-away against Plymouth and a now infamous loss to Wolves — but otherwise his minutes centrally have been limited to outings with the under-23 side and one Europa League start under Brendan Rodgers.
The Klopp mold of centre-back
While not on the same level as Alexander-Arnold in terms of creativity, Gomez has surprisingly strong ball skills for a centre-back. The fits Klopp’s ideal, as his hallmark centrebacks, Mats Hummels and van Dijk, were recruited with this same skillset in mind. It’s therefore no surprise that Klopp views Gomez as a long-term option at the back, with him once stating he wants Gomez at Liverpool for the next 10-15 years.
Klopp reinforced his faith when was recently asked whether he would dip into the transfer market to sign a centreback this summer. He swiftly declared he would not be looking at any more defenders this summer, but more interestingly, his reason was not that he has Lovren, Matip or even Klavan as options. Instead, Klopp immediately cited Gomez as the reason he would not have to look at any defenders this summer.
Stellar record in the middle
In addition to captaining England at under-21 level, Gomez received a Man of the Match award in his first senior start at centre-back against Brazil, proving his natural position is still his greatest strength.
While there have been question marks over Gomez’s concentration — particularly his habit of switching off at the far post — Liverpool fans should be very excited to see Gomez taking up a starting role against West Ham.
If everything goes as planned, this could very much be a different kind of breakout season for Gomez as he hopes to prove to Klopp that the centre-back he needs going forward is sitting right in front of him.