By Freddie Best
Last season’s transfer window saw an influx of new recruits at Melwood, and it’s no secret that performances by the likes of Balotelli, Lovren, Lambert and Manquillo were met by derision from fans. For the most part though, new boy Alberto Moreno managed to avoid the firing line, but were his performances really any better than those of his disappointing counterparts?
Perhaps it was that stunning goal in the 3-0 victory over Tottenham that endeared the Spaniard to the Liverpool faithful, maybe his imitation of Daniel Sturridge’s trademark celebration won him some fans. The fact is, Moreno has been prone to some shaky, and frankly reckless moments in a red shirt and hasn’t received the same amount of criticism of some of the other below par performers from last year’s disappointing campaign.
Despite this, it has seemed that Moreno’s place in the starting lineup has never been under any imminent threat. The biggest reason for this is doubtless a lack of competition; Jose Enrique seems more at home on Instagram than actually on a football field these days. But this could be about to change.
When Joe Gomez signed from Charlton, I, like the majority of Liverpool fans assumed that he was ‘one for the future’ and would probably be loaned out to gain some experience. After watching him perform extremely well on the LFC pre-season tour, I was assured of the youngster’s quality, and when Brendan Rodgers announced he was not going to be loaned this season, I began to see him differently.
As time has gone on, it’s been more and more easy to envisage Joe Gomez challenging for a place in the starting line-up, and for the first time, Moreno’s claim to the left-back seems to be less than secure. Perhaps Joe Gomez isn’t quite ready to start week in, week out in the Premier League; he is only 17 years of age after all. Indeed, some have argued that we need to sign a left-back to challenge Moreno, with Lucas Digne emerging as the preferred target. But the mere presence of a player who is a physical presence and seems to be level-headed and self assured could spur on Moreno to perform better. When Willy Caballero signed for Manchester City from Malaga, the new found rivalry inspired Joe Hart to reach new heights after a struggle for form. Optimistically, this is the effect Joe Gomez could have on Alberto Moreno.
So called ‘wonderkids’ are ten a penny these days, but Gomez shows unusual maturity for one so young, and his composure and general defensive work have so far been sound, whereas Moreno’s lack of defensive abilities that have troubled the Anfield faithful. Realistically, Gomez will probably be restricted to Europa League outings this campaign, given his tender age, but he could still be the solution to the unpredictability of Liverpool’s current left-back, bringing out the best in him.
Moreno is undoubtedly talented and has bags of potential; his athleticism and flair in attack can be particularly exciting. If the rumour milll is to be believed, Barcelona are considering a £12 million swoop for the Spaniard; Luis Enrique apparently sees him as an ideal understudy and eventual successor for the phenomenal Jordi Alba.
This reinforces my belief that Rodger’s isn’t ready to give up on the 23 year old yet, as his talent and potential talent is still appealing. I certainly don’t believe the Northern Irishman is prepared to sell Moreno; doing so would pose a depth problem with just two weeks to go before the new season.
So, it seems as though Moreno will be given another chance to succeed at Anfield, and if he kicks on this season and turns out the good performances we know he can produce, everyone around the club will be pleased. Hopefully, the arrival of Joe Gomez will be the catalyst for Moreno’s desperately needed improvement, and if not, perhaps the young Englishman will emerge as a more than capable replacement and be the latest Liverpool youngster to make an impression in the Premier League.