Liverpool fans celebrated when Joe Gomez returned to the team after a long stretch on the treatment table this season. In the fall, he had been a stand out player for Liverpool, some believing he rivaled the effectiveness of his centre-back partner, Virgil van Dijk, with his aggressive and intuitive performances. His loss in early December was a huge blow for the team, but Dejan Lovren, and especially Joel Matip, took their opportunities to shine exceptionally well in his absence.
The Reds had the best defense in the league this season — maybe in all of Europe — and former Liverpool captain and legendary defender Sami Hyypia believes that the future looks bright.
“It’s a very good thing if you have four to choose from for every game - and who knows, maybe he will play a game with three centre-backs at some point. That is an option too,” Hyypia told the official site.
“But it’s a great thing and competition for places is always a healthy situation, then no-one can really take it easy. I think Lovren and Matip have also done well like Gomez this season, so whoever has played there, they have done their job.
“Also, remember against Bayern Munich at home Virgil wasn’t there and I think many people were worried about how it would go, but it went well and we got a clean sheet. That shows that the others are doing their task too.”
As for Gomez, Hyypia believes that the 21-year-old is only going to get better as he ages.
“For sure. Earlier they said that the prime age for a footballer is 27 or 28, but I think it might be a little bit younger now,” the Finn said.
“It’s a pity that he has had those injuries that kept him out, because all the young players, when they play games they improve the most and when you have an injury setback that keeps you out of training then it affects you a little bit.
“It slows your development down a little bit but hopefully now this injury was his last.
“I think he has all the qualities to be a very good centre-back. He’s the type of player that you could put him in any position in the defence and he will do a job for you because he has the quality to be a very, very good centre-back when he gets a little bit more experience.”
The hope is that Gomez remains healthy for next season so that his game can progress the way that it has seemed poised to for several years now. The constant stop-start to his career thus far hasn’t negatively affected him yet, being so young, but it will if it continues along that path.
It would be impossible to want anything but good things for the England international who has given his all to play whatever position the manager has asked him to fulfill. Next season could be a big one for Gomez, and for Liverpool, if he and van Dijk have the opportunity to become the dynamic, unstoppable partners we hope they can be.