Liverpool defender Joe Gomez has been urged to learn to defend like Manchester United’s Lisandro Martinez.
Gomez has had a terrible season, culminating in a shocking display against Real Madrid on Tuesday. And writing for The Daily Mail, former Liverpool centre-back Mark Lawrenson admitted the 25-year-old could learn a lot from Martinez’s style of play.
“Across the back there are problems. Virgil van Dijk has not quite returned to his best and has been deprived of a regular partner. Ibrahima Konate has been injured and Joel Matip does well but then gets injured too. Joe Gomez, meanwhile, had a bad night against Real Madrid and I advise him to look to Old Trafford,” Lawrenson wrote.
“I hate to use the example of a Manchester United player when talking about Liverpool, but I am going to do it as Lisandro Martinez has been terrific for them. He enjoys defending — he would kick his own grandmother! He does the basic things well and for him that’s his job. We all like defenders who can play but we like ones who can defend more, don’t we?”
Gomez looking for ways to improve
The last line of Lawrenson’s comments here is the crucial one. Because right now, Gomez actually does neither of those things. The former Charlton man has always been known more as a classic defender rather than a ball-playing centre-back.
On paper he has everything needed to play that role. Gomez is quick – or at least he was before his injuries – he’s tall, strong, and good in the air.
Plenty of times during his Anfield career, we’ve seen all of those things on show. But whether it’s as a result of his injuries or just a general levelling off of his ability, he hasn’t shown it consistently for a while.
Quite how Gomez gets back to the level he was is unclear. The more likely scenario is that, at twenty-five, we’re now seeing the true player that he is. If that’s the case then, unfortunately, he isn’t good enough for Liverpool.
One way of getting back to something like an appropriate level though, is to get back to basics.
Whatever sticks have been used to beat United’s Martinez with, that’s something he does very well. As Lawrenson says, the £57m World Cup-winner looks like he really enjoys defending.
You can’t say the same for any of Liverpool’s defenders right now, Gomez included. Virgil van Dijk always looks affronted when forced to put a tackle in, while Gomez just seems to panic. Joel Matip meanwhile is very much more in the ball-playing centre-back role.
The one ace up Liverpool’s sleeve is of course Ibrahima Konate. Now there’s a man who loves to defend. Once Ibou returns to fitness, Gomez can perhaps look to the Frenchman to get his mojo back. In the meantime, watching Martinez isn’t necessarily the worst idea Lawrenson’s ever had.
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