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How Liverpool's new deal for Gomez show faith that he can become a first-team regular

Monday 30th January 2017
After signing a new long-term deal with Liverpool, can the 19-year-old defender Joe Gomez go on to bigger and better things at Anfield?

Born in Catford, south London, it was fairly obvious that Gomez was going to play Premier League football at an early age, making his debut for Charlton's under 18 team, at just thirteen.

Following a professional contract with the Addicks in 2014, Gomez – aged 17 – made his senior debut in a 4-0 league cup victory over Colchester United at The Valley as their right-back.

Playing more predominantly at centre-back in the academy, Gomez was given the opportunity by then-manager Bob Peeters to regularly feature as a full-back for the Football League side.

During that 2014/15 campaign, the 6ft 2in defender made 24 appearances, including 18 starts for Charlton as they finished in 12th spot in the Championship. At the end of the term, Gomez was rewarded with the club's Young Player of the Season award, highlighting the maturity in his displays in South-East London.

As soon as the season ended, Gomez was at the centre of much speculation as to which Premier League side would take him at the club. Liverpool were the favourites, but interest from sides such as Arsenal and Manchester City was apparent as was a potential deal to Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund.

Nevertheless, it was Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool who snapped up the promising talent, securing him on a five-year deal for an initial fee of £3.5m.

During his first pre-season at the Merseysiders, Gomez impressed immensely. His performances during the summer gave him a first Premier League start, coming against Stoke City, starting in an unnatural role at left-back, Gomez once again shined, assisting Philippe Coutinho's match-winning goal in the 86th minute.

However, Gomez, who has been capped at England U16, U17, U19 and U21 level, would only go on to make another four league appearances before suffering a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury whilst playing for England's U21 side.

Fighting to come back fit for the 2016/17 season, a further setback was about to follow for the former Addick, as he tore his Achilles whilst in rehabilitation for his knee injury.

Nonetheless, the injury made the youngster more determined than ever. Bulking up on his physique, which at 19 was already impressive, Gomez set about returning for Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool in 2017, a wish that was granted in the FA Cup tie against Plymouth Argyle, earlier this month.

Gomez featured again in Liverpool's shock defeat to Wolves at the weekend, but the game should not worry the centre-back too much after he signed his new contract in the week building up to the match.

If given the time and the right approach, there is no doubt that Gomez has the capabilities of playing at the highest level - for his country too.

He has been likened to a centre-back such as Rio Ferdinand through his composure on the ball and ability to read the game extremely well.

As proven by his versatility across the back four, Gomez is an intelligent individual and has the athleticism to become successful.

Do not be surprised to see a partnership regularly featuring the 19-year-old in the Liverpool back four in the upcoming months.
Greg Stubley
Greg graduated with a first in Sports Journalism from the University of Brighton in Summer 2016 and has already managed to gain experience in the industry, working for companies such as Charlton Athletic and talkSPORT. Greg is currently the regular commentator on Charlton's "CAFCPlayerHD" service, bringing full-match live commentary along with Terry Smith of Addicks' games up and down the country for subscribers to listen.

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