‘Look at him go’ was the cry from Martin Tyler in the commentary box as Joe Gomez surged into Arsenal’s defensive third from his own half in the final few minutes of Liverpool’s 0-0 draw at the Emirates towards the beginning of last season.
Pace, agility and energy in abundance. A young man blessed with a combination of composure on the ball and the type of imposing physique that can add some simple but much needed power and height to the Liverpool set up going forward.
His short run of games at the beginning of the campaign were enough to suggest he can be the type of athlete this Liverpool squad is short of.
Such a promising start to his Anfield career was cruelly halted by a long term knee injury that has kept him on the sidelines for much of the season.
The former Charlton man had impressed early on under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers and proved to be a key part of what was starting to look like a strong back four.
His ability in a less favoured left back position gave Liverpool fans the chance to relish in the thought of him occupying a more central role in the future.
His instinctiveness as a right footed player to come inside on his stronger side demonstrated signs of benefiting Dejan Lovren’s growth as well as giving him the chance to show off his forward thinking on the ball.
The 19 year old’s presence close by provided the Croatian with some back up to help him combat the nerves he so often played with as a result of being outnumbered on numerous occasions due to Alberto Moreno’s lack of positional discipline.
Premier League life did not faze him and sets him in good stead to adapt quickly to such a demanding division.
He gave up possession too easily at times but did not fail to prove he can match the speed of England’s top tier and find a teammate more often than not while under a kind of high pressure he will not have experienced before.
The awareness he showed when it came to both matching his side’s desired pace of the game and also choosing the right moments to dictate the tempo himself was great to see. This went towards recognising a self-confidence and thereby a capability to take responsibility.
A main criticism of him early on was his insistence on trying to be the modern day defender people so often plea for. The mental confidence to shift from focusing entirely on trying to play good football and play out from the back every time will come as he gains more experience.
Klopp’s man management will be key in helping Gomez develop into the positive yet assured and reliable defender that Everton fans are desperate to see John Stones become. As long as he is stopping the opposition from scoring, there is nothing wrong with hitting row z at times.
Decision making and his conviction in this area is something else he must also improve on in order to progress.
Fans want to see him use that strength and speed to put himself one step ahead of the opponent and make it impossible for them to gain a yard on him or to spot an opportunity quicker than he does.
There is no room for half-hearted challenges and the split second lack of concentration he was guilty of at times will always be punished in the Premier League. The ability is there, it is the experience that he needs above all.
Gomez gives Klopp another option when thinking about a backup left back, especially considering the uncertainty surrounding the future of Moreno.
His stature in addition to his turn of pace and positional play makes him a more ideal candidate to become a regular at centre back as time goes by.
With Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure looking likely to depart in the summer, the youngster could get the opportunity to compete for a starting spot.
The added challenge of Joel Matip’s arrival and the reinvigoration of both Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho could work in Gomez’s favour. He needs to be eased back in slowly after injury and this will give him time to visualise what he must offer an inevitably altered team in what will be seen as a fresh start under Klopp.
There is no reason why he cannot push his Liverpool compatriots for a start. He is under a manager who will not refrain from putting his faith in youth out of fear and a manager who will always give him a chance.
Nathaniel Clyne looks to have stamped his mark on the right back position for now and there is no use playing Gomez at left back when it doesn’t appear to be a long term role for him.
Fans want to see him in the heart of the Liverpool defence and it is up to Klopp to now decide what will be best for him. While a loan move would give him experience, it is pointless sending him to a struggling Premier League club where his confidence could be damaged.
A promotion chasing Championship side would be a good option, if he were to be sent out.
The fact is that he does not need to be sent out. There is nothing to say Matip won’t struggle or that Lovren and Sakho will continue their good form. Preparing him to be ready to play if needed and allowing him to put pressure on these men will be an important part of his development.
He hasn’t had a real chance to show his manager what he can do yet, which makes him a real threat to his teammates. He is an exciting prospect and a talent many seem to have forgotten about.