(Reuters) - England defender Joe Gomez is delighted to have the opportunity to learn from Liverpool team mate Virgil van Dijk and sees himself as a “sponge” soaking up lessons from the world’s most expensive defender.
Van Dijk’s January move for a reported 75 million pounds ($106.3 million) from Southampton to Anfield may have hampered Gomez’s long-term ambition of moving from right back to centre half but he does not see the Dutch international as an obstacle.
“I didn’t see it as blocking my path or anything like that. It’s a great opportunity to learn from him,” the 20-year-old Gomez told British media.
“I am not overly stressing about it or paranoid about other people coming in. It’s great to be in environments where I can learn from players like that. I am just trying to soak it all up and be the best sponge I can be.
“I think he has a great presence, everyone sees that. He is very dominant in the way he plays and his body language shows that he has quality on the ball.”
Gomez received his first England call-up in November and earned praise for putting a commanding display to nullify the threat of Brazil’s Neymar in a 0-0 draw.
He freely admits he is still getting used to taking on the world’s best forwards and is also learning from Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, who has scored 36 goals in all competitions since arriving at Anfield at the start of the campaign.
“I’m not sure (who is better), they’re both world class,” Gomez added. “They’re both incredible players and it’s a pleasure for me to come up against such talent.
“It has to be a balance of respecting the ability but also understanding that he’s your opponent and you can’t be in awe of him, otherwise that might not do you any good. I try to learn as much as I can about each opponent and study their threats.”
Gomez pulled out of the England squad for Tuesday’s friendly against Italy at Wembley after suffering an ankle injury in the 1-0 win over Netherlands on Friday.
($1 = 0.7051 pounds)
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru