If Jordon Ibe has been the best performing Liverpool player of pre-season, Joe Gomez has been its revelation.
Arriving from Charlton for £3.5m early on in the summer, the 18-year-old defender has gone from unknown quantity to likely starter in the space of six friendlies. The Telegraph report that the England youth international has won the battle with Alberto Moreno to start against Stoke on Premier League opening day.
Gomez seems to be taking it all in his stride, and has given an interview to the Echo, cited by the official website, in which he’s discussed the ease in which he’s found the start to Liverpool life.
“I’ve settled in really quickly and a lot of that is down to the manager, the staff and all my team-mates making me feel so welcome,” he began.
“They have made me feel comfortable and I’m enjoying my football here.
“Pre-season with all the travelling has been an amazing experience and something I’ve never been part of before. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve taken it all in and I’ve enjoyed it.
“It’s been great for me to get experience playing all along the back four as that helps me to play in numerous positions. I’m happy to play wherever the manager needs me.
“Ideally, centre-back is my main position but I’m happy to play right-back or left-back if the manager believes I can help the team there.”
It’s interesting that Gomez sees himself in central defence long-term, as he’s looked as natural a fullback as is possible for a teenager.
He’s been totally solid defensively, but has also marauded the left flank and played clever passes to link up with the attackers too.
As a result, Gomez should play versus Stoke, the scene of last season’s 6-1 humiliation. The defender didn’t belong to us then, but he’s still keen to right the wrongs from that woeful afternoon.
“It was nice to get selected against Helsinki but there’s still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done between now and Stoke,” he continues.
“I just have to keep working hard to get in the team. That’s my aim to try and play at Stoke.
“If I do start then I’m confident in my ability and I’ll do my best to help the team.
“I always like to try and stay as relaxed as possible. I do obviously feel pressure but that mainly comes from myself and wanting to do well.
“And wanting to perform well for my friends and family who are always supporting me. I want to do them proud.
“I remember watching the highlights of that game [the 6-1] on TV,” he explained.
“I didn’t know at that point I’d be coming to Liverpool. I’d spoken to them but nothing was certain.
“It was an extraordinary result but there’s been a lot of changes to the squad since then.
“Everyone is up for it. I’m sure those who were involved in May will use it as motivation. After a good pre-season everyone is confident we can go there and get a result.
“Since I’ve been here that game hasn’t been talked about. Everyone is positive and looking forward to the game.”
Gomez could be lining up alongside some more blockbuster summer signings at the Britannia though, with over £60m worth of talent in Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino vying for starting spots, too.
Having seen the pair first-hand, the wonderkid can’t wait to play alongside them.
“You could tell straightaway when they started training with us that they are two world class players,” he said.
“Their quality in the sessions was clear. They are two massive signings and they’ll help the team to do bigger and better things this season.”