Joe Gomez played just seven Premier League games this season before disaster struck and he was sidelined with a patellar tendon rupture that required surgery.
The Englishman formed a dominant partnership with Virgil van Dijk during the 2019/20 campaign which saw Liverpool finally become Premier League champions and 2021 was supposed to be the year he confirmed his status as one of the best in the world.
Gomez is still only 23 and has long since been regarded as one of the best young defenders but another major knee injury prevented pundits and fans from dropping that prefix and regarding him simply as one of the best in his position overall.
At the time of his patellar tendon rupture, he was stepping up in Virgil van Dijk’s absence and was forming a strong relationship with Joel Matip. When the news broke that Gomez had suffered a serious knee injury on international duty, Liverpool supporters were distraught.
Anfield Central has been informed that Liverpool’s medical staff believe Gomez suffered his patellar tendon tear partially due to his previous knee surgery which can put players at risk of this particular knee injury.
The defender was out for almost a year between October 2015 and June 2016 due to an anterior cruciate ligament rupture which required surgery. While there’s no way to be certain, the club believes that his ACL reconstruction in 2015 made him more susceptible to suffering a patellar tendon tear.
The surgery to repair the damage behind the kneecap was his fourth operation to correct an injury since he moved to Liverpool.
Gomez didn’t miss a single minute of professional football due to injury before his move to Anfield but, to be fair to him, he only played 24 games for Charlton Athletic before he was signed by Brendan Rodgers’ transfer committee for £3.5m.
As things stand, we understand that Liverpool are signing Ibrahima Konate this summer and he will arrive not as competition to Gomez but to partner Virgil van Dijk. The club is worried about the 23-year-old’s long-term fitness and how he will overcome four serious injuries in four years.
The England international turns 24 later this month and has recently returned to outdoor training at Kirkby and while he’ll have the entire summer to prepare himself for his return to action next season, Liverpool want to manage his workload at first and give his knee the time to rebuild its strength.
It’s extremely rare for players to suffer both an ACL rupture and a tear of the patellar tendon and this unique and unfortunate situation means that Gomez will need to be kept under close watch to minimise his chances of re-injury.
ACL ruptures are awful but tearing your patellar tendon is actually worse.
We spoke to Dr. Rajpal Brar, who you can find on Twitter or at 3CB Performance, and he told us: “The patellar tendon is an active mover and takes on significantly more load than the ACL (which is a “passive constraint”, it’s not contracting rather just passively stretching to control knee joint stability).
“It’s a really strong tendon that’s important to basic knee movements so that’s why it’s a tough injury to deal with.”
Given the highly mobile nature of Liverpool’s centre-backs, Gomez relies hugely on mobility and agility.
His role, as Virgil van Dijk’s foil, is to provide cover for Trent Alexander-Arnold and although his incredible pace won’t be diminished, his ability to turn on his heels and give chase to fleet-footed attackers might suffer.
In short, there are concerns over the ACL rupture van Dijk suffered but it was a contact injury and the club is more worried about Gomez.
All of Gomez’s injuries (ACL tear, two ankle surgeries, patellar tendon tear) have occurred behind closed doors which means there is an air of mystery to them as far as supporters are concerned.
At the time that he suffered his latest injury, Liverpool fans were irate and accused the FA and England national team of covering up the real cause but at this point, it’s a mix of bad luck and previous injuries catching up to him.
Fortunately, Gomez is yet to turn 24 and so time is on his side but with Ibrahima Konate set to sign for roughly €40million following the conclusion of the Premier League season, there is pressure on him to bounce back otherwise he will play second fiddle to the French giant.