Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has stated that he wants to keep youngster Joe Gomez at Anfield for the next 15 years, and that he believes he is ready to play centre back.
The now two-time full England international enjoyed a duo of outstanding performances during the Three Lions' high profile November friendlies against Germany and Brazil, in a different position to the one he fields on a weekly basis for Liverpool.
So far this term the Reds' defensive struggles from last season have continued, with the ex-Borussia Dortmund boss still unsure as to which of his defenders he can truly rely on.
This was no more evident than during Liverpool's embarrassing defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur last month, during which Klopp substituted Dejan Lovren within the first half and commented after the game that he could have done a better than any of the defence himself.
However, while the likes of Lovren have floundered at the back under Klopp, he has continued to utilise 20-year-old Gomez on the right hand side of the back four, rather than his more natural central position.
However, during the international break the Gomez proved when coming up against some of Europe's elite attacking opposition (such as Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar and RB Leipzig's Timo Werner) that he is more than able to step up to the challenge.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, ahead of Saturday's clash with Southampton Klopp commented on the Charlton Athletic academy graduate's progress at Anfield.
When asked whether Gomez can play at centre-back for Liverpool, Klopp replied (as quoted by Sky Sports): "There is no doubt about that.
"Joe knows about his little issues but he is still a young lad. He has to improve in a lot of parts but of course he is ready. He is a fantastic player."
"He was injured in a time in his life when people are still growing and that is a medical thing. We want to have him for the next 15 years, hopefully."
"I want to use him. He is ready but he can play at full-back as well. That is very good for us."
Liverpool will return to Premier League action this weekend when they play host to Southampton on Saturday in a game that could help the Reds close the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea, if results go their way.