Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers splashed out £12.5m on a specialist left-back 12 months ago in order to solve a problem position at Anfield, but a year down the line it is a teenager rather than Alberto Moreno who has started all three Premier League games.
Eighteen-year-old defender Joe Gomez cost a modest £3.5m from Charlton Athletic shortly before the Reds embarked on their pre-season Tour of Australia and the Far East in July.
At that juncture Gomez was almost a complete unknown to the majority of households, though he was clearly making strides having broken into Charlton’s first team last season.
Predominantly a centre-half by trade, the Catford native was thrown into the action on the left-side of Liverpool’s defence for those friendlies as an injury to Moreno opened a door of opportunity.
The Addicks academy product instantly impressed Rodgers, showing a coolness in possession which also got Kopites taking note.
After the game against Brisbane Roar, Rodgers said: “I’ve seen him (Gomez) at centre-half and at right-back, but I wanted to see him at left-back and I thought he was outstanding. Joe will stay with the club this season. I’ve already seen enough in this period.
“He’s got all the tools to play across the back four and he’s a big talent.”
Rodgers clearly hasn’t wavered from that opinion and his faith in the 6ft 2” youngster is already paying dividends this season.
Gomez has now been part of three clean sheets to start the 2015/16 campaign, helping Liverpool to seven points and playing an integral role in shrinking the Reds’ top-four odds to 11/10.
Those ‘tools’ that Rodgers was referring to, have been plain for all to see already.
His latest showing in front of the cameras against Arsenal revealed a full array of attributes, not least a strength that borders on freakish for his tender years.
It’s not only his raw physical power that amazes, though, there is a poise in possession which defies his new surroundings and technical ability to match.
Anyone defending on their unnatural flank is usually up against it, but it seems this kid simply takes it in his stride.
Gareth Southgate has just called Gomez up to the England U21 side as reward for his stunning breakthrough and even this early on in the season, Liverpool fans will be desperate for him to remain unscathed.
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