We’d argue that Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk is about as good a central defensive partnership as any other in world football.
The Dutchman is unrivalled, but when fit, Gomez has been sensational since the beginning of the 2018/19 campaign and has only not been in the side due to injuries and for a small period, the form of Joel Matip.
Gomez has explained in detail how van Dijk has helped him grow as a player and person and nailed it on the calming influence the 28-year-old has not only on on his team-mates but the entire stadium!
“I’ve said it before, but the stature of Virgil before he came to the club was massive,” Gomez told Sky Sports.
“I was a young centre-back, hadn’t really gotten as many games [at Liverpool] as I would have liked but as soon as he came in, he reached out with open arms and we formed a bond straight away.
“The fact that he is a down-to-earth person off the pitch, we get on really well and we have a great relationship.
“We talk and in times like this, we FaceTime and speak about general things so that helps on the pitch when you have an understanding. He’s your mate at the end of the day.
“Sometimes he gives me an earful, but it’s a massive help and a confidence booster just having someone like him beside you. When there’s a one-on-one battle, you know he’s going to dominate, he doesn’t really lose headers at all.
“Just having him alongside you and his presence, it’s not just me, it’s the whole team and the stadium. When Virgil goes down, I think there is a bit of a gasp and a worry but he’s a real dominant force and a pleasure to play alongside.”
Matip is a good defender as well who’s now tied to the club for the foreseeable, but we’d suggest he’s very much third choice now due to the emergence of Gomez as one of the best in the business.
In terms of attributes, Gomez doesn’t quite have van Dijk’s strength or aerial prowess, but he’s probably a little quicker and is just as comfortable on the ball.
We might have to buy a new fourth choice central defender if Dejan Lovren departs at the end of this season – but it’ll have to be someone comfortable with playing second fiddle.