Joe Gomez is undoubtedly Europe’s best young centre-back despite injuries

With all the talk of Virgil van Dijk this season, fans and pundits alike have been slow to point out the loss of Joe Gomez.

The Dutchman is undoubtedly the best centre-back in the world. He is of course a major loss for Liverpool. Evidence of this lies in fans constantly talking about him on social media and commentators mentioning him every time Liverpool play.

However, the focus on van Dijk has meant that Gomez’s injury has gone under the radar. While he is not quite as big a loss as his partner, the chances are that Liverpool’s season would be going an awful lot better had he been available for the last number of months.

Joe Gomez is an elite centre-back. Not everyone knows it, but it’s the truth. In fact, he could have a case for being one of Liverpool’s best ever signings by the time he leaves the club.

Admittedly, his form post-lockdown was poor. But just look at the first six months of the 2019/20 campaign – he was a strong shout for a team of the season place.

Joe Gomez’s ability remains to be underrated. This has been underlined by how little coverage his injury has received compared to Virgil van Dijk. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY SKY SPORTS.

He has his dodgy moments. Every centre-back does, particularly the younger ones.

And that is an important point to remember. Because he has been around for so long, people forget that Gomez is still just 23, which is very young for a player in his position.

He can be too passive at times. While defenders should try to jockey opponents rather than stupidly commit to challenges, Gomez can sometimes let the dribbler take the ball too far, leading to shots on goal.

But nine times out of 10, he gets it right.

His form in the six games he played after van Dijk’s injury was immense. Liverpool won five of these games, drawing one against Manchester City. They conceded just three goals during that time.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 12: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Joe Gomez of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Leeds United at Anfield on September 12, 2020 in Liverpool, England. PHOTO BY ANDREW POWELL/LIVERPOOL FC VIA GETTY IMAGES.

Gomez had four different partners in this period, but he offered Liverpool consistently excellent performances no matter who was beside him. He well and truly looked capable of stepping up and cementing himself in the world-class bracket in van Dijk’s absence.

Then, as we know, disaster struck on international duty. In fact, the full story of exactly what happened has never been revealed.

There is no point in going into the details of Liverpool’s form since then.

Gomez is an anomaly among young defenders

Gomez will be a huge loss for England in this summer’s European Championships. He could have formed an excellent partnership with John Stones had he been fit. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY CGTN.

The main point that we are trying to make is that Joe Gomez deserves the exact same support from fans that van Dijk is getting, if not more.

The chances are that Gomez, six years van Dijk’s junior, will be around six years longer than van Dijk. He is going to be the future of Liverpool’s defence, provided he makes a full recovery.

The fans that were on his back a year ago will be the ones singing his praises when he is inevitably Liverpool’s finest defender.

And where is the evidence that he will become this world-class centre-back? In short, his career thus far is the evidence.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JULY 22: Joe Gomez, Georginio Wijnaldum and Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool celebrate with The Premier League trophy following the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield on July 22, 2020 in Liverpool, England. PHOTO BY PHIL NOBLE/POOL VIA GETTY IMAGES.

At 23-years-old, Virgil van Dijk was at Celtic. He was three years away from becoming the best defender in the world. Jamie Carragher at 23 was barely getting into the Liverpool team at fullback. Sami Hyypia was plying his trade at Willem III.

What about the current crop of world-class centre-backs? Well, Sergio Ramos was at right-back for Real Madrid. He was not even trusted to play in the middle. Kalidou Koulibaly was in his first season at Napoli and was by no means first-choice.

At 23, Joe Gomez is a Champions League and Premier League winner. He was a crucial part of a high defensive line that conceded just 22 goals in 2018/19 and 33 goals in 2019/20.

LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 29: Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez of Liverpool combine to block out Eden Hazard of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge on September 29, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. PHOTO BY MIKE HEWITT/GETTY IMAGES.

All this despite suffering five separate serious injuries before the one that he is currently out with.

Dayot Upamecano has earned a fantastic reputation recently, and rightly so. Ask a lot of fans who the best young centre-half in the world is and he is the likely answer. The French powerhouse has earned himself a move to Bayern Munich reportedly worth £36.6m (€42.5 m).

But he is much more prone to mistakes and calamitous defending than Gomez, as seen in Liverpool’s Champions League triumph over his RB Leipzig side this year.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – FEBRUARY 16: Dayot Upamecano of RB Leipzig during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between RB Leipzig and Liverpool FC at Puskas Arena on February 16, 2021 in Budapest, Hungary. PHOTO BY CHRISTINA PAHNKE – SAMPICS/CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES.

Again, every young centre-back makes mistakes, so Gomez’s rare few can be forgiven.

It is about time that fans and pundits showed Joe Gomez the respect he deserves. It’s only a matter of time before his performances will demand it.

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