Apropos of absolutely nothing, I’m declaring September the official “Let’s Focus On Players Who Love the Club and Will Do Anything To Stay” month. Like Joe Gomez, for example. Gomez, recently named the captain of England’s U21 team, looked certain to move away from the club on a loan after a long spell recovering from injuries followed by few chances to play with the first team in the last season.
But the 20-year old was eager to keep challenging for a first team spot at Anfield rather than getting guaranteed minutes elsewhere, and Jürgen Klopp was happy to give him the opportunity to do just that.
"Naturally, a loan was going to be an option this summer,” Gomez told the Liverpool Echo. "Everyone saw that I didn’t get many games last season, but I said in pre-season I wanted to fight.
"There's nothing I'd rather do more than play for Liverpool. I'd pick this option all day. You have to hope you get that opportunity.
"When the manager said he wanted me to stick around and challenge that was great to hear because it’s what I wanted too."
Gomez’s first season at Liverpool was cut short when he suffered an ACL injury in 2015. The road to recovery was a slow one, and one that came with a lot of time to dwell on the fact that he had to bulk up to avoid another injury like that. Klopp, however, wasn’t a fan of this new muscle mass and believed it had cost Gomez some much-needed agility.
Gomez took the manager’s words on board and immediately changed his regime.
"There is only so much power and strength you need,” Gomez explained. “The main thing is to be mobile, especially [when] you're playing at full-back. It's more important to be able to get up and down.
"It was a positive that I was able to adapt. This pre-season felt like a fresh start for me."
With injuries firmly behind him and the challenge of making first team ahead, Gomez is most excited to just return to the pitch.
“When you’re out injured, you have a lot of time to think. There was a lot of time when I was sat there reminiscing [about playing football]. Those memories gave me the hunger and the desire to get back. That’s what really drove me.”