By the mid-way point of last season, Liverpool had lost all of the senior centre halves they’d started the year with as the club struggled through an unprecedented injury crisis during a compressed season played without fans.
As pre-season ends ahead of the kickoff of the 2021-22 season, they now have at least four players who look good enough to start for a title-challenging side—and proven depth even beyond that. That means a fight for playing time for the players, but that’s only normal at a club like Liverpool according to Joe Gomez.
“That’s part and parcel of being at a top club, I think,” the 24-year-old centre half told the club’s official website. “That’s what this club deserves and that’s what we all thrive off: competition is good and it’s healthy.
“But we can all learn off one another. I think each of us is different and we’ve got top quality. Obviously the likes of Rhys [Williams] and Nat [Phillips] and Ben [Davies] and so on, all top players, and it’ll be good this season. Now it’s just to learn from each other and keep pushing each other, day in and day out.”
While last season’s injuries were enough to make anyone doubt there could ever be enough cover at any position, Liverpool now look one of the deepest sides in England and Europe, with any of Gomez, Joël Matip, or Ibrahima Konaté looking more than good enough to partner presumptive defensive anchor Virgil van Dijk.
Behind them, as Gomez notes, are still the likes of Davies and Phillips and Williams—though one at least will likely depart this summer, with Phillips attracting the most attention.
Elsewhere, there is similar depth, with Kostas Tsimikas looking more than capable as Andy Robertson’s deputy while Naby Keïta, James Milner, Curtis Jones, and Harvey Elliott seem set to fight for midfield minutes behind Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, and Thiago.
If there’s a position that seems a little light, it might be forward, with Diogo Jota the only proven alternative to Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané, and Mohamed Salah, but a strong summer for Takumi Minamino could give the Reds five strong options for three positions and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains something of a wild card.
Depending on what the future holds for the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi there could still be another name or two added to those lists, but even if there isn’t, after the past few weeks it’s hard to look at the players the Reds will have competing for minutes this year and not feel optimistic.