Liverpool defender Joe Gomez is using teammate Virgil Van Dijk’s journey to the top of the game as inspiration for his own future.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo shortly after he penned a new contract at Anfield, Gomez said he is hopeful of being the next Van Dijk. He also had words of praise for Joel Matip.
“We have great role models in front of us. They (Matip and Van Dijk) are both obviously very experienced now and still at the top of their game, and have prime years ahead of them,” he said.
“It helps give context, I suppose. Virgil had gone 26 when he arrived, so me looking at what he achieved from that age on, knowing I still have the opportunity to try and have that time ahead of me, is obviously something to chase and aspire towards.
“What Virg has done is going to make him a legend at the club in world football. That’s the target. To aim high helps you achieve as much as you can. Ibou being even younger than me, it’s obvious we have time ahead of us.”
It’s worth remembering that Gomez is still just twenty-five. Having had several of his early footballing years destroyed through injury, he still has time to kick on even further.
Tough task ahead for Gomez
Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool obviously share the belief that Gomez is Van Dijk’s long-term successor. They wouldn’t have given him a new contract if they didn’t.
The 25-year-old surely could be, but he really needs to get himself back in the team on a regular basis.
That won’t be easy. The three names currently ahead of him are three of the very best around. Van Dijk in particular is absolutely immovable. Despite last year’s serious injury, he’s as good as ever and could still play for years.
Matip, too, is getting ever better the older he gets. The 30-year-old was unfortunate not to be named alongside Van Dijk in the Premier League Team of the Season.
And then there’s Ibrahima Konate. Undisputedly Liverpool’s Man of the Match in last season’s Champions League final, and an accomplished defender at just twenty-three.
A difficult task for Gomez in the short-term, but one he’s good enough to take on. It’s sometimes forgotten that when Liverpool won the league at a canter in 2019/20, Gomez was more-often-than-not Van Dijk’s centre-back partner.
For that alone, the man signed for just £3.5m deserves recognition. Hopefully he can go on to be a big part of any success Liverpool have in the coming years and start to rebuild his reputation as a top defender in his own right.
His season hasn’t started in the best way as he appears to have picked up another injury. Just how damaging that is remains to be seen, but early signs are that it’s nothing serious.