Liverpool have gained player Arne Slot will know he simply cannot do without

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez during the international friendly match between England and Iceland at Wembley Stadium on June 7 2024
-Credit: (Image: Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

The season for Liverpool ended the way it had started for Joe Gomez - twiddling his thumbs as an unused substitute on the bench. In between, though, the defender had arguably made himself one of the most important players of Jurgen Klopp's final campaign.

Certainly, the departed Reds boss was very much of the same mind. “He saved our backside this year 15, 20 times," said Klopp. “It’s absolutely outstanding."

That Gomez is now with England preparing for his first international tournament at the forthcoming European Championships speaks volumes about the wide-ranging impact of the 27-year-old during the past 10 months.

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Back in August, though, Gomez was not required for the opening weekend at Chelsea and then made a token appearance against Bournemouth. However, the red card for Virgil van Dijk at Newcastle United opened the door for a lengthier stint from the bench with Gomez then starting at Aston Villa and, when Trent-Alexander Arnold picked up an injury, switching to right-back for the next three Premier League games.

That versatility would be further underlined in December when, having rotated into left-back for the win at Sheffield United, he was shifted permanently there after Kostas Tsimikas joined Andy Robertson on the sidelines. Gomez's form was so impressive that he started 10 of the next 13 top-flight games in the position.

During that run, he also began all four FA Cup games, while in the League Cup he played in every minute against Bournemouth, West Ham United and the two-legged semi-final triumph over Fulham only to find himself on the bench for the final against Chelsea, although an early injury to Ryan Gravenberch meant he played the majority of the game.

Gomez featured in all 10 Europa League games - six as a starter - and was captain for the group stage defeat in Toulouse. However, it did not pass unnoticed that as Liverpool's ambitious Premier League title challenge ran out of steam in the closing weeks, Gomez started only one of the last eight games and played for a combined six minutes in the defeats to Crystal Palace and Everton.

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His versatility was such that out of 31 starts, only two came in his recognised position at centre-back. The majority were at left-back with 10 in arguably his secondary position of right-back, and there were even two as an emergency defensive midfielder as Liverpool's injury list reached new heights in late February.

Gomez, of course, was the only player to have been at Liverpool throughout Klopp's tenure, but that his tally this season of 51 appearances was his most in nine seasons at Anfield highlights the injury problems that have so often hampered his progress.

Now, though, the player appears in his prime and, after so many fitness problems caused by international duty, has been handed the reward of a place on the plane with England at next week's Euros in Germany.

The long-standing question of what is Gomez's best position has now been made redundant. Every squad needs a player who can adapt to what the team needs - and new head coach Arne Slot has inherited one his successor knew he simply couldn't do without.

End-of-season rating: 7