Jurgen Klopp insists Joe Gomez is now a genuine right-back option for Liverpool given the excellent shape he is in and his impressive pre-season form.
The 20-year-old has been a prominent figure in the club’s summer preparations so far, earning valuable first team minutes having missed much of 2016 with a long-term knee injury.
Despite being strongly linked to a loan move, Gomez has now emerged as a valuable option for Klopp due to Nathaniel Clyne’s current injury layoff and the need for Trent Alexander-Arnold to continue his development.
“When he came back, he was injured, when he came back he was heavy – a lot of muscles where you don’t need muscles if you don’t want to go to the beach or whatever,” Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com.
“We had to work on this and now he’s back. He lost weight, he’s really fit, he looks sharp, that’s right. [There are] still things to improve – [his] heading was really good today but he can improve, he needs to be a little bit more aggressive.”
“In the full-back position he is unbelievably important for us now because Clyne had no pre-season so far; Trent is a fantastic player but also just 18 and offensively he is probably ready but in defence he needs to improve a lot. We need these different options and it’s good to have him back.”
Gomez has recently expressed his desire to stay put and fight for his place at Anfield next season and could get the chance to do so having caught the eye with a series of composed and mature performances.
Though there is obvious room for improvement, he already gives Liverpool a crucially versatile defensive option and someone with the technical and physical attributes capable of pushing for a regular starting spot.
Recent games have served as a reminder of not only how quick and strong he already is, but also how cool he is with the ball at his feet.
Adding that extra aggression as Klopp has highlight promises to take his game to the next level and make him a serious contender for a long-term place in Liverpool’s back four.