This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
A stunning start to the 2018/19 campaign saw Joe Gomez emerge as a standout player for Liverpool and England.
The former Charlton man was starting week in, week out alongside Virgil van Dijk and had iconic centre-backs such as Rio Ferdinand championing him to become one of England’s best.
Ferdinand said: “This kid for me, he’s on the march to be the best defender we’ve got in England. I rate him so highly. He’s calm, he’s cool and you need that when you’re under pressure.”
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Sadly for the 22-year-old however, he suffered a lower leg fracture in a 3-1 away win against Burnley before the turn of the year and only managed to make three more appearances for the rest of the season – those showings amounted to just 12 minutes of action.
Gomez lost his place to Joel Matip, who in fairness didn’t put a foot wrong after he came in – the Liverpool supporters loved his display in the Champions League final.
However, two key moments from the 6 foot 2 defender in pre-season so far have shown that he is desperate to impress Jurgen Klopp and get back in the team alongside van Dijk.
The Charlton academy graduate was allowed to have an extended holiday after appearing in the UEFA Nations League with England, and was due to be back at Melwood later this month.
Gomez instead made an early return on Saturday, and went one better by wowing his teammates and the staff by running James Milner all the way in the annual lactate test – a running drill designed to assess the player’s fitness levels after their time off.
“Everyone knows how fit Millie is, he’s a machine, but I tried to do as much as I could in the off-season to come back as fit as possible. It’s nice to be up there competing with him, to get to that stage, but Millie speaks for himself,” said Gomez, and it’s clear to see that he has been working hard on his fitness in the off-season.
Reporting back early for pre-season training, and then running the fittest player at the club all the way in the endurance test shows that Gomez is serious about preparing for the 2019/20 campaign properly.
He certainly looks determined to get his place back from Matip and impress Klopp.