Liverpool have revealed that Joe Gomez will require surgery as part of his rehabilitation from a lower leg fracture. It’s news that forces the club into a difficult position, both short and long term.
Liverpool broke the news on Monday morning and explained that the surgery would allow Gomez a ‘more complete recovery’.
That makes the decision understandable – and less worrying than surgery being an outright necessity – but it’s still a blow. Gomez had a very productive start to the season, cementing a place alongside Virgil van Dijk in Jurgen Klopp’s defence.
Liverpool have cover until Gomez returns from surgery, but there’s a bigger problem than the young defender’s short-term absence.
Joe Gomez post-surgery
This news means that Gomez has had surgery in all three of his first-team seasons at Liverpool. His first season saw him suffer a terrible ACL injury that sidelined Gomez for exactly one year.
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He only played three FA Cup games in 16/17 before returning to the first-team last season. March brought another injury, however, ruling Gomez out for the last few months of the season after surgery on the injured ankle.
That’s a worrying record, although one that can just about be put down to poor luck.
If they were all ACL or ankle injuries, you’d point to a weakness but instead he may just be unfortunate to suffer three unrelated impact injuries.
Liverpool still have a decision to make, though. Do they persist with Gomez as the long-term partner for Van Dijk, despite his injury record?
It’s a hell of a gamble to focus on developing a partnership that may never have the consistency to flourish. Liverpool could be giving the time to a player who can guarantee success and development in a way Gomez can’t.
Relegating Gomez to 3rd choice may be safer, allowing Liverpool to sign a player who can partner Van Dijk long-term without issue.
Gomez may be ideal for Liverpool
But Gomez appears to be the perfect partner for Van Dijk. Both are very athletic defenders who are perfectly comfortable bringing the ball out and Liverpool could rely on that tactically.
On top of that, Gomez’s age makes him a natural understudy to Van Dijk, allowing the Dutchman the leadership role he thrives on.
It also seems unlikely that Liverpool would find a more talented defender who fits the bill as well as Gomez. The upside of his success would be far greater than virtually any signing.
Liverpool should almost certainly stick with Gomez despite the surgery. The potential in the Gomez/Van Dijk partnership is huge and that’s enough to take the gamble.
It’s far from a simple decision, however.