Joe Gomez paid thanks to Virgil van Dijk after the two returned from injury on Monday. Both players missed the bulk of last season.
Liverpool’s season took a big hit last October. Virgil van Dijk left the pitch against Everton and wouldn’t return for the rest of the campaign.
Losing the world’s best centre-back was a huge blow but one the Reds could handle. Joe Gomez, Joel Mtaip and Fabinho would cover, giving the side a shot at the title.
What really ended hopes, though, was Gomez picking up a season-ending injury under a month later. That one crippled Liverpool down the line.
The two are finally back, however. Pre-season training started on Monday with both in attendance. Neither are fully back, of course, but they’re involved with the group for the first time in 2021.
It’s a massive moment for both Van Dijk and Gomez – essentially what they’ve worked for since late last year.
And looking back, Gomez says he’s thankful for Van Dijk being there with him throughout their injury hell.
Gomez thanks Van Dijk for injury help
“It was massive [going through it with Van Dijk],” Gomez told Liverpoolfc.com.
“There were so many moments, right at the beginning, when we were at home on the sofa and couldn’t move, and we were FaceTiming and speaking about things.
“It’s someone to relate to, to vent to at times when you’re frustrated, so it was massive.
“I think we’re both thankful to have had each other; it was cruel circumstances, but it definitely made things easier.”
Where do we go from here?
Managing these two – as well as the returning Matip – is the biggest task facing Liverpool next season. We don’t yet know how close they are to their best and only time will tell.
But there will always be a fear that either could suffer a setback or reoccurrence at this stage. After all, they’re closing in on ball-work and actually playing football for the first time in nearly a year.
We expect Liverpool to handle them with the utmost care, then. Ibrahima Konate’s arrival means they can afford to be patient with their first-choice duo, giving them minutes here and there to slowly build them up.
Really, anything Gomez and Van Dijk offer over the first half of the season should be considered a bonus. These were serious injuries that could have shortened careers.
So being careful with them and making sure both can contribute in 2022 is the primary task here.