According to a recent report from The Liverpool Echo, Dejan Lovren’s World Cup exertions could see him miss the start of the new Premier League season with Liverpool. The centre back played a key part in helping Croatia reach the final of the competition in Russia this summer, with the 28-year-old appearing in all seven of their matches en route to the showpiece, where they lost 4-2 to Didier Deschamps’ France.
Yet his incredible efforts in helping his country to the final look set to earn him a rest in the first few weeks of the new Premier League season, which opens the door for £19.8 million-rated Joe Gomez (as per Transfermarkt) to earn the centre back role alongside Virgil van Dijk in the heart of Jurgen Klopp’s defence.
Ultimately, van Dijk’s arrival at Anfield back in January made a big difference on the Liverpool backline as they immediately became a much better side defensively, with Lovren in particular one man who benefitted from the Dutchman’s addition by striking up a great partnership in the heart of Klopp’s defence.
Yet Lovren’s extended break following his World Cup efforts leaves Klopp facing something of a dilemma as to who to partner van Dijk in the early stages of the 2018/19 season, thus leaving Gomez facing the most important few weeks of his Liverpool career in his bid to stamp his authority on the centre back role.
The 21-year-old had only made ten appearances for the Reds prior to the 2017/18 season to suggest that he was nothing more than a squad player at Anfield, yet an injury to Nathaniel Clyne at right back opened up the chance for the defender to stake a claim for a regular spot.
And with 31 appearances for Klopp’s side last term, he certainly did just that, and while the vast majority of those appearances were at right back, he also showed qualities that he could be an outstanding centre back.
And those were none-more-so evident than in his three England caps under Gareth Southgate over the course of the season, with Gomez performing well in friendlies against Brazil and Germany back in November of last year to suggest that he has what it takes to succeed at centre back.
In fact, it’s plausible that the 21-year-old would have gone to the World Cup, and potentially started for England as part of a back three, were it not for an ankle injury late on in the campaign – thus, he has clearly got huge potential in the centre back department.
And that is why the next few weeks are the most important in Gomez’s short Liverpool career so far, as if he gets it right ahead of the new season to pip Joel Matip to the centre back role alongside van Dijk, doors could open to huge opportunities at Anfield – he even has the ability to keep Lovren out of the side when he returns to fitness.
Get it wrong though and lose out to Matip, and questions will be asked over his long-term suitability to the centre back role, and with compatriot Trent Alexander-Arnold likely to retain the right back slot, it would be difficult to see Gomez commanding regular football at Anfield.
As such, these coming weeks appear to be the most important in the 21-year-old’s short Liverpool career so far.
Liverpool fans… what do you think? Let us know!