Joe Gomez was Brendan's best buy
PREMIER League clubs with more money than sense have spent silly amounts in this transfer window, but I think Liverpool made the signing of the summer when they picked up 18-year-old Joe Gomez from Charlton.
What an impact the lad has made.
Okay, he has only played a handful of games in the Premier League, but he caught my eye from the first time I saw him during Liverpool’s pre-season matches and has carried on that high level of performance.
Here is a youngster who played 21 games for Charlton in the Championship last season and someone at Liverpool has seen something in him, had a bit of a gamble, and hasn’t it paid off?
The kid looks so mature, nothing seems to faze him. After reserving judgment on him following games against Stoke and Bournemouth, I was keen to see how he reacted to the much bigger test of taking on an Arsenal side loaded with attacking talent.
Well, he was brilliant once again.
Playing on the left side of defence as a right-footer is not an easy task, but Gomez has looked the part since arriving at Liverpool – and the initial evidence suggests they have picked up a gem.
Defensively, he looks sound – and the burst of pace he has in his locker allows him to make threatening breaks forward as well.
He looks to have everything a modern full-back needs and my only concern is that he performs so well in his first season at Liverpool that the vultures come swooping a year from now.
Raheem Sterling (above) is a London boy who had no real affinity with The Reds, so when the big money was floated around by Manchester City this summer he didn’t think twice before cashing in his chips and leaving Anfield.
In an ideal world, you want to have a kid who was a Liverpool fan and see it as his dream to play for the club – then you have a chance to keep him for the long term.
We have to hope that young Gomez finds a long-term home at Liverpool because, from what I’ve seen so far, he can make an impression in the left-back role he is filling now and the right-back berth too, where he may be better suited in the long run.
He’s also adept at playing in the heart of the defence and, when you are only 18 years old, it’s very much a case of finding out where your best position might be.
What the lad has is plenty of raw talent and that should serve him well wherever he ends up. If he is as good as he has appeared to be in his first few games for Liverpool, we need to learn from the mistakes of the Sterling saga and make sure we keep him happy.
Boss Brendan Rodgers must make sure he is looked after financially and allow the coaching team to develop his talents because, as we have seen with Sterling, Anfield is a great place to hone your skills.
In many ways, the Gomez transfer is a bit of a blast from football’s less garish past, with a big club like Liverpool doing some proper scouting in the lower leagues and identifying a talent who is good enough to make the step up.
Young kids cannot always be relied upon for consistency, but Gomez is an example of what is out there if Premier League clubs can be bothered to persist with the old-fashioned route of finding players.
Ray Houghton and myself went from Oxford to Liverpool back in the day, but could we have made that move in the modern game?
Possibly not, because most of the top clubs are not looking at clubs like Oxford and Charlton for their players.
Super-rich clubs have the focus trained on finding quick-fix solutions and, when you see Manchester City paying £49m to sign Sterling and Chelsea offering £40m for Everton’s John Stones, you have to accept that the game has changed for good.
The end result is that British and Irish kids are being overlooked in an era when the cash flowing into the bank accounts of Premier League clubs means they don’t need to nurture talent and try to give young players a chance to shine in their first team.
There’s nothing better than a kid coming through the ranks at a club, forcing his way into the first team and forming a bond with a club moving forward.
Fans love that kind of story, yet we are seeing less and less of it.