Premier League • England

Klopp admits surprise at transfer-linked star; lauds ‘special’ moment in record-setting Diaz goal

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp looking shocked

Jurgen Klopp reckons he’d be “difficult to deal with” if he had the talent and subsequent lack of minutes Joe Gomez has garnered this season.

The centre-back, 24, has been made to bide his time after overcoming a serious knee injury last term. Gomez was passed fit in pre-season, yet has fallen to a distant fourth-choice in the pecking order behind Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate.

Gomez completed a rare 90 minutes at the weekend, albeit in his less favoured position of right-back. Nevertheless, it was a step in the right direction for a player who continues to be linked with a move away.

Aston Villa were in the mix for his signature in January – believed to be regarding a loan deal –  but Klopp refused to entertain the notion.

Nonetheless, Steven Gerrard is expected to ramp up his efforts to snag Gomez on a permanent deal in the summer, while the Athletic claim Newcastle are also circling.

Now, speaking in his Tuesday press conference (via the Liverpool Echo), Klopp spoke only in glowing terms about Gomez.

Joe Gomez hailed – on and off the pitch

In doing so, Klopp suggested Gomez has not complained or kicked up a fuss about his lack of minutes when stating he’d be “difficult to deal with” in the same situation.

“A very special story,” said Klopp of his defender. “With the quality of Joe, if I had it, I would be difficult to deal with.

“Everyone loves Joey and with his injury, Covid at the wrong time, he didn’t get rhythm. I am really happy with his performance [against Norwich]. I was pleased with him.

Joe Gomez number 1 target for Gerrard at Aston Villa this summer

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez is Steven Gerrard’s number 1 target for Aston Villa this summer

“It’s not the position he loves the most [at right-back]. He is an example and we have lots of others.

“I told the boys yesterday, the way we deal with some situations is exceptional. Last two games, the changes we made were massive with their influence. That’s how it has to be.”

Top 10 Premier League stars for most goal involvements – Man Utd star ninth, Salah fourth, Watford man top

Klopp wowed by record-setting Diaz goal

Klopp then turned his attention to new signing Luis Diaz. The Colombian has made a wholly encouraging start to life at Anfield and notched his maiden goal with a delightful left-footed dink against the Canaries.

Klopp lauded Diaz’s finish, but was quick to point out the goal came from a 34-pass move – the highest figure for any Premier League goal this season.

The final, defence-splitting pass from captain Jordan Henderson was labelled “pretty special” by the German.

“Very satisfying,” added Klopp on the subject of Diaz’s goal. “Obviously the two we scored opened up the game for us. Knock for Norwich, boost for us.

“These moments are rare, you work so hard to get any advantage but if you have it, we are able to do some nice stuff. 34 passes, I loved them all.

“The last pass from Henderson was pretty special. We had a big gap in the centre which Luis used and that was because of our movement. That’s how football should look.”

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