You have to feel for Joe Gomez. The 19-year-old was brought in a year and a half ago as a long term investment. While he surely would’ve plugged some defensive gaps in the short term, there was a sense that he came to develop so that a few years down the line he could fulfill an elusive need for Premier League clubs— genuinely promising English talent.
At least that was the plan. That October, Gomez tore his ACL while playing for England U21s. That injury ended his availability for the season and ate into much of this one. He finally returned to training two months ago— a full year after the injury— and played in a closed-door friendly last month. With Gomez inching his way back to full fitness, it was thought that he might be sent out on loan in January so he could get his sea legs back.
But Jürgen Klopp says that Gomez is staying at Melwood, and that he’s got a plan for getting Gomez back up and running and ready to fight for a place in the team.
“For us, I don’t think so. We had a very good talk. What I think about Joe Gomez is he is an unbelievable talent, which everybody knew before. It’s a long injury and if we send him on loan, with his quality, a team will play him every game. That is not what he needs in the moment. Because he was a long time injured he needs us to judge: ‘now play, now stop, rest, work on this, do this, do a little bit on this’.”
Klopp made it clear that there’s no pressure on Gomez to jump right back into the first team and that he’ll have all the time he needs to complete his recovery.
“This half a year playing I don’t know, playing the highest level he can, maybe. We have him. So maybe he is an option for the first team. But maybe not for this season. His pre-season has already started and he can get match time, and will have match time for sure with the U23s. That’s very important. He was not part of all our tactical drills and all the things we did. Now he is a part of it. And he has to learn a lot which is good. There’s no rush for him, and no rush for me. At this moment I would say ‘no loan’ but everything else, we will see.”
Gomez likely still has a long path ahead of him, but it’s heartening to hear that the club still sees him as a worthwhile investment.