Liverpool supporters have been making a lot of noise in the Transfer Tavern this week after seeing their side all but book their place in the last eight of the Champions League courtesy of a 5-0 first leg thrashing of Porto in their last 16 clash on Wednesday.
Jurgen Klopp’s men went into their encounter with the Portuguese giants off the back of easing past struggling Southampton 2-0 in the Premier League last weekend, a result which moved them to within two points of second place Manchester United in the table. And the Reds look on course for a quarter-final spot in Europe’s elite competition as well as a Sadio Mane hat-trick as well as strikes from Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino sealed a comprehensive victory on Wednesday night, thus all but securing their place in the last eight.
Subsequently, there have been many delighted Liverpudlians in the Tavern in the last few days, several of whom are daring to dream about what their side could go on to achieve this season, both domestically and in European competition.
In the meantime though, there has been much for our resident Reds fans to discuss this week, not least news that right-back Nathaniel Clyne has returned to full training after missing the entire season thus far with a back problem.
And several of those Liverpool fans lining up at the bar are hoping that the £18 million-rated (as per Transfermarkt) star’s return to the starting line-up in the coming weeks will force Klopp into a key selection change, namely playing Joe Gomez at centre-back alongside Virgil van Dijk.
Ultimately, Netherlands international van Dijk was brought in during the January transfer window in a bid to significantly strengthen their defensive ranks, ranks that had let them down repeatedly in the early phase of the campaign, and indeed ever since Klopp took charge back in October 2015.
Be it Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip, or Ragnar Klavan, none of them have been overly convincing in the heart of the Liverpool backline during their respective stints at the club, and van Dijk hasn’t exactly made the greatest of starts to further underline that one man cannot completely transform a defence.
Yet the answer to their centre-back woes could lay at the feet of Gomez, who has been forced to play at right-back for the majority of the campaign due to the injury to Clyne, but did excel at centre-half for England in his first two caps against Brazil and Germany back in November.
And against that calibre of opposition, even if both were friendlies, for the youngster to show his class and look like a seasoned campaigner at centre-back underlines how much of an asset he could be to Klopp when Clyne returns from injury.
Clearly, the 26-year-old is a better right-back than Gomez, that’s not to say the latter hasn’t done well in his absence, but Gomez’s efforts at centre-back on the odd occasion he has played there suggests that he is arguably a better option than messrs Lovren, Matip, and Klavan.
And he would certainly learn a lot from the influence of fellow centre-back partner van Dijk as well, which can only be a good thing for both him as an individual seeking a possible World Cup spot, and indeed Liverpool, who are seeking answers to their continuing defensive concerns.
So while the return of Clyne himself will be a big boost down the Reds’ right-hand-side, it could also provide the boost they need in the heart of their defence, as Gomez could finally get a run of games at centre-back to hone in on his evident capabilities, as well as striking up a formidable partnership with January signing van Dijk.
It will be up to Klopp to make that key change, as doing so could significantly improve the Reds’ backline for both the rest of the season, and beyond.
Liverpool fans… what do you think? Let us know!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!