Joe Gomez wants to rise to the challenge of forcing his way into Jurgen Klopp’s starting line-up after signing a new long-term contract at Liverpool.
The 25-year-old made just four league starts for the Reds last term as he fell behind Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate in the pecking order.
However, he still feels that he has more to offer at Anfield, and has now explained why he penned a new deal until 2027.
‘I can understand why people would have thought I’d be considering moving on, for sure, 100%,’ Gomez told the Liverpool Echo.
‘It’s apparent from my age now and based on my opportunities in the past, there was definitely still a decision for me to make.
‘I guess you could see it at as a crossroads. But speaking to the club, I knew it was an important decision for me to make. Fundamentally, the opportunity that I have here and the platform and the chance to be at this club is one that is hard to walk away from. Essentially, it was me accepting the fact I have got to take on the challenge.’
Given his lack of game time last season, Gomez was linked with a move away earlier in the summer, and LaLiga giants Real Madrid were reportedly interested in the English centre-back.
Gomez has claimed that he did not pay much attention to rumours regarding his future, instead focusing on making his own decision without outside influences.
‘I can’t dispute I heard about these rumours. But until things are concrete with my representatives, I take it all with a pinch of salt.
‘Any interest is flattering, but I don’t really see it like as that much of a distraction because until I make my decision, the external noise is just that – external.
‘Once I got my head around what I wanted to do, my signing is me understanding the challenge and wanting to rise to it,’ he added.
During Liverpool’s title-winning campaign in 2019-20, Gomez was a mainstay in the team’s back line alongside van Dijk.
Injuries have curtailed his progress since then, but the defender is now working harder than ever to put his fitness woes behind him.
He continued: ‘The big thing for me was staying on top of things because the last injury caught me by surprise.
‘I always feel working hard is one of my fundamentals and before the injury I hope that’s how I was seen. But it’s made me have to step up a gear and do things that people don’t see, like at times of the night or after an away game travelling to stay on top of my body.
‘I had the whole of last season to work in the gym and on the training pitch with the boys. It has surpassed the shape I’ve been in before, but in a different way. I have definitely worked harder than ever on a consistent basis.
‘I am very hungry to do well, and with experience I gain more knowledge and a better routine to manage the hard work with efficiency. I hope the combination of my desire to do well from a mental standpoint and the hard work I put in helps me be in good stead.’