Jurgen Klopp Looking to Keep Youngster Joe Gomez at Anfield as Virgil van Dijk Move Appear Unlikely
As one door looks to be closing in the Reds' pursuit of Virgil van Dijk, another seems to open as Jurgen Klopp revealed he is keen to keep Joe Gomez in Liverpool's first team for the upcoming season after the 20-year-old's impressive pre-season displays.
Gomez has returned to 100% fitness, following more than a year on the sidelines due to a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
Klopp told the Liverpool Echo: "Joe is another player who is now in the best shape since I have been in."
Gomez could be thrown into a major role for Liverpool this season, following the lack of progression in the chase for Virgin van Dijk, while Mamadou Sakho is still likely to depart.
While naturally a centre back, Klopp also hinted that Gomez's versatility are a key reason why he is unlikely to be sent on loan in 2017/18 and could be a useful option across the back four.
He added: "Joe can also play the full-back positions. With Milly [James Milner] and Clyney [Nathaniel Clyne] currently injured, it's important we have more options there."
Gomez has featured and impressed in all of Liverpool's pre-season friendlies, catching the interest of newly-promoted Brighton, who have have reportedly enquired about a loan move for the former Charlton starlet. However it seems more likely he will make a direct impact for his parent club in the coming months.
Gomez made his first impression with the club back in 2015, but his anticipated emergence was dealt a huge blow after the severe knee injury. Klopp admired Gomez's determination to return to full fitness and could be rewarded with a chance in the first team ahead of the upcoming season.
Liverpool's opening game of the 2017/18 campaign sees them travel to Watford and with Milner and Clyne currently sidelined, Gomez could well feature in any of the defensive positions.