This article forms part of our Transfer Scenario feature, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at a recent transfer rumour and suggests what the potential consequences would be, should a deal be completed.
Should Joe Gomez play more?
Last weekend, 90min.com reported that Liverpool defender Joe Gomez was growing frustrated with a lack of game-time this season and is open to the idea of leaving Anfield in the search for more regular appearances.
The 22-year-old has had multiple injury problems since coming to the club in 2015, his first season with the Reds cut short by an anterior cruciate ligament injury which kept him out until January 2017. He also missed the 2018 Champions League final because of ankle surgery, as well as fracturing his leg midway through last season, which ruled him out for four months.
Consequently, the England international has made just 74 Liverpool appearances (up to his cameo as a substitute against Tottenham on Sunday) in more than four years at the club, with a solitary start in 10 Premier League games this season going into Saturday’s clash with Aston Villa.
According to 90min.com, Gomez has interest from several clubs around Europe but would rather relocate to his native London if he were to leave Anfield, with Arsenal and Tottenham both indicating an interest in bringing the ex-Charlton defender back to the capital.
If the 22-year-old ends up going back to London next year, what could the potential consequences be for Liverpool?
Increased reliance on Dejan Lovren
Gomez is one of four senior centre-backs at Liverpool, along with Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren. The Dutchman has been ever-present for the Reds in the Premier League and Europe this season, while the Cameroonian has been a regular starter but has missed four of their last five games because of injury.
In Matip’s absence, Lovren has started three of Liverpool’s last four matches, and if Gomez was to leave, the Croatian would likely be called upon more regularly, having made only one appearance this season before October.
Lovren is now 30 and, as noted by HITC, came under fire from many Reds supporters for his performance against Tottenham at the weekend. If Gomez goes, Liverpool’s reliance on the error-prone Croatia veteran (six mistakes leading to goals in the Premier League) keeping fit could increase.
Even less full-back cover
Liverpool full-backs Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold both came in for high praise from Roy Keane on Sky Sports after the Tottenham game, describing them as “absolutely fantastic” [via The Independent].
However, the Scot is the only left-back in Jurgen Klopp’s first-team squad, while the English youngster’s only natural replacement is Nathaniel Clyne, who suffered a cruciate ligament injury in pre-season and is not expected back until next year, as per The Telegraph.
James Milner was forced to play at right-back when Alexander-Arnold was ruled out of last week’s win over Genk due to illness, and with Gomez having covered in both full-back positions in his time at the club, his exit would leave Liverpool even more threadbare in these areas were either Alexander-Arnold or Robertson to be unavailable for a lengthy period.
Potential first-team squad opportunities for youngsters
While Gomez’s exit would lighten Liverpool’s defensive options notably, as illustrated above, it should open the door for younger players to become more involved in first-team matchday squads.
Sepp van den Berg, the 17-year-old centre-back signed from Zwolle in the summer, has only featured for the first team in the Carabao Cup win over MK Dons, but has been playing regularly for the under-23s and may be called up by Klopp for matchday squad inclusion if the Reds are light for centre-back cover.
Ki-Jana Hoever (also 17), who like Gomez can play either centre-back or right-back, has had occasional first-team exposure, playing in the FA Cup against Wolves last season and scoring against MK Dons five weeks ago.
Teenage left-back Adam Lewis was also in the squad against the League One side that night and, were Gomez to leave, all those youngsters would have one less player ahead of them in the pecking order for their respective positions, which should increase their chances of at least making the bench for the first team.
Could Liverpool afford to let Gomez leave given the lack of senior defensive cover or would it help to bring on some of the young talent at the club? Share your views in the comments section below!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!