By Ben Smedley
Liverpool have just announced that Joe Gomez (25) has signed a long term contract with the club, extending his stay until 2027.
But is it the correct decision?
In this article, I will debunk the pros & cons to securing the long term future of the 25 year old England international.
Joe Gomez signed for Liverpool from Charlton back in June 2015 for £3,500,000. Since then, he has made 143 appearances across all competitions. His best form was most notably during Liverpool’s title charge back in the 2018/19 season, forming an unstoppable pairing with Virgil Van Dijk. Gomez started 15 Premier League matches whilst Liverpool conceded just 5 goals during that time. He also started 5 Champions League games in the European Cup winning season where Liverpool conceded 8 times. This is an overall total of 13 goals conceded in 20 starts for the then 21 year old, averaging at 0.65 goals conceded per start.
Many thought after this impressive season that Gomez would go onto become a first choice regular at Liverpool, at the heart of Liverpool’s defence for years to come. But unfortunately, this was not the case.
Since the 2018/19 season, Gomez has only started 56 games in three seasons, but to no fault of his own. He underwent surgery for his ankle back in December 2018 which would side-line him until April. Naturally, after this kind of procedure, it will take some time to get back into the starting 11. Especially when your team is as good as Liverpool’s.
But, Gomez bounced back. In the historic 2019/20 Premier League title winning season, Joe Gomez was able to start in 22 of the 38 Premier League games. He also featured at right back in the Super Cup final against Chelsea, and started twice during the Club World Cup competition. He started a total of 30 games in that season, where Liverpool conceded 24 times. An average of 0.8 goals conceded per start. It was the season after where it truly went wrong for Joe Gomez.
Back in November 2020, Joe Gomez went away with England on international duty. During a training session, he ‘allegedly’ twisted his knee whilst jumping for a header. This resulted in a serious knee injury, which ruled Joe Gomez out for the rest of the season. This was a huge blow to Liverpool’s title chances after already seeing a long term injury to Virgil Van Dijk a few weeks before.
The most frustrating part of all of this, is the way Gomez carried the baton for his injured team mate. Once Virgil was injured, it seemed like Joe Gomez was returning back to his best form. Liverpool ha conceded just 3 goals in the 3 Premier League games that Gomez started after Virgil’s injury, whilst conceding 0 in the 3 opening Champions League games. So naturally, this injury was a huge blow to the squad.
Liverpool spent the rest of the season using midfielders as centre backs, whilst adding the inexperienced Nathaniel Phillips & Rhys Williams into the mix. Somehow, a 3rd place finish was achieved which was seen as a huge success due to the long term injury blows to Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez & Joel Matip.
But once again, Joe Gomez breezed his rehabilitation process & was back in contention to start games for Liverpool the following season. With Gomez’s injury record, it was crucial that the club managed his minutes closely last season & that’s exactly what they did. His first start of the season came back in September as Liverpool comfortably beat Norwich City 3-0 at Carrow Road in the Carabao Cup.
Joe Gomez was handed the armband by manager Jurgen Klopp which was a big statement from the manager. The cup competitions were crucial for Gomez getting minutes last season due to the arrival of French defender Ibrahima Konate. The impressive start by the France Under-21 International naturally made it tough for a centre back who had missed the majority of last season to get back into the team. Gomez also had to get past Joel Matip who was one of the leagues best defenders last season, seemingly putting an end to his injury woes. However, like I mentioned, the cups proved a huge success for Joe Gomez’s return.
He started in the first three games in the Carabao Cup, captaining the side twice against Norwich City & Preston North End. He also started in the 3-3 thriller against Leicester City, although the arm band was handed back to Jordan Henderson.
He also started twice in Liverpool’s FA Cup journey against Norwich City & Nottingham Forest. In the Nottingham Forest fixture, Joe Gomez once again showed his impressive versatility whilst playing right back. This is a position where Gomez started in on 6 other occasions last season, putting in a number of impressive performances as understudy to Alexander-Arnold.
Overall, it was a steady return back to the pitch for Joe Gomez after such a traumatic year. He played a big role in Liverpool’s winning cup double, whilst also featuring every now & again in the Champions League & Premier League.
In my opinion, I do feel that extending his contract to 2027 is smart business by the club. It means that Liverpool are fully equipped in the centre back position, whilst also having more than enough depth at right back with the addition of Calvin Ramsay. Virgil Van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate, Joel Matip & Joe Gomez is a phenomenal group of elite centre backs in order for Liverpool to challenge on all fronts once again. The only con to this deal, is his tack record for injuries. But like I have stated, Liverpool have three other top options at their disposal, and the chances of them all being injured at the same time again, is highly unlikely.
Had Joe Gomez have signed for Aston Villa, it would have meant that Liverpool needed to trust Nathaniel Phillips, or reinvest in somebody else. It can become very difficult to sign a player who knows that they aren’t going to start every game of the season, which it seems Joe Gomez is happy with. This does not mean that he won’t try, I am fully expecting Joe Gomez to battle for a starting position next to Virgil Van Dijk once again in the upcoming campaign.