Ahead of the season, more than a few Liverpool fans looked at Liverpool’s defence and wanted to see reinforcements brought in. Even with Virgil van Dijk’s dominating presence at centre half, solid fullback starters, and a new big-money signing in goal.
That’s because even those who counted Dejan Lovren a deserved starter alongside Van Dijk wondered and worried about depth and whether Joël Matip could stay fit or Joe Gomez was ready to take the step up and be a viable third choice option this season.
Matip’s fitness record may still be a question mark, but such doubts now look downright silly given how well Gomez has played—not just providing a viable third choice at for Jürgen Klopp at centre half but making a strong case that he should be starting.
“I’m just enjoying playing,” Gomez said when the 21-year-old was asked about his role alongside Van Dijk this season and whether that spot was now his. “I’m just learning. I’m still young—obviously I’ve got a lot to learn. I’m far from the finished article.”
And as impressive as he’s been, fans would do well to take those words seriously rather than as simple modesty. As good as Gomez has looked, there will be stumbles, just as there were for him last season at times when he mainly played at right back.
It’s only been a little more than two months since the season started; a little more than two marks since Liverpool’s centre half depth went from question mark to Big Joe Gomez. The hope, of course, will be for him to maintain his form the rest of the way.
Things could change over the next two months or so just as they have since the summer, though, and if they do it won’t mean Liverpool suddenly need a new defender in—it will just mean Gomez is a talented 21-year-old still learning his trade.
“Last season I had some exposure to Premier League football,” he added. “I played a few more games than I had the season before. I’ve been learning and I’ve still got a lot to learn.”