Joe Gomez reveals when he almost left LFC – and how Virgil van Dijk stopped it

Joe Gomez has lifted the lid on the time he almost left Anfield for pastures new and has credited his centre-back partner Virgil van Dijk for talking him out of the decision.

Gomez became Liverpool’s longest-serving current squad member over the summer following the departure of Jordan Henderson to Al-Ettifaq in the Saudi Pro League.

He has made 182 appearances for the club and was an integral part of ending the 30-year wait for a league title in 2019/20, but long-term injuries have plagued him throughout his time on Merseyside.

The defender recently revealed that he turned down an approach from RB Leipzig before joining the Reds in 2015 and in the same interview he admitted he had thoughts about going out on loan just two years after his arrival.

“Subconsciously [Van Dijk] affected me a lot. I was nearly going to go out on loan as he was going to come in the summer [of 2017], then he didn’t come,” Gomez told the On the Judy podcast.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, March 14, 2023: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (L) and Joe Gomez during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 2nd Leg game between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid CF. (Pic by Jessica Hornby/Propaganda)

“I was close to Gini [Wijnaldum] already, and as he is also Dutch, the three of us would just naturally speak together and meet up and stuff.

“I’ve learned a lot from Virg off the pitch. It’s nice to have someone like that to lean upon.”

Van Dijk became the club’s record signing in a £75 million move from Southampton in January 2018 following failed attempts to land him the previous summer.

Gomez has since struck a bond with the man who went on to become Liverpool captain and it appears that the Dutchman’s influence has been crucial from the outset.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 14, 2022: Liverpool's (L-R) Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip celebrates with the trophy after the FA Cup Final between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. The game ended in a goal-less draw, Liverpool won 6-5 on penalties. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The pair formed a formidable defensive partnership during the title-winning season and have become good friends off the pitch as well as having great respect for one another on it.

Gomez’s injury problems and the increased competition from the arrival of Ibrahima Konate in 2021 have made it difficult for him to secure the regular football he once enjoyed.

The 26-year-old has, however, grasped his early opportunities from the absences of others this season, registering nine appearances in all competitions already in 2023/24.