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27th Dec, 2016 | 3:01pm

Report: 19-year-old identified as Liverpool replacement for Lucas, Klopp has been hugely impressed

By Harvey Byrne

Joe Gomez has been identified as the player to replace Lucas Leiva in the Liverpool back four, according to a report.

The Liverpool Echo has claimed that manager Jurgen Klopp has been hugely impressed by the 19-year-old since his return from a long-term injury.

This has led to the German boss allowing stalwart Lucas to leave in January, as he expects the Brazilian’s game time will be limited with the return of Gomez.

It is reported that Serie A giants Inter Milan are targeting the Liverpool defensive midfielder, who has started just three times for the Reds in the league this season.

However, Lucas has played 326 times for Liverpool in total since completing a £5million move from Gremio in 2007 and has proven a very good servant for the club.

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But, Klopp must now look to the future and with the comeback of Gomez the German manager will be keen to ensure nothing gets in the way of his development.

The versatile teenager completed a £3.5million deal to Anfield from League One outfit Charlton in the summer of 2015.

He broke into the Reds team immediately, playing seven times in his first few months at the club, but injury has meant that has not played since October 2015.

Gomez will now be keen to break into the Liverpool team who are battling well in the league in third place.

Football Insider verdict:

Lucas’ days at Liverpool are now well and truly numbered. The Brazilian always done a solid job, but never produced the extraordinary. Now with his legs going it is looking likely that he can’t keep up with the pace of the Premier League. Meanwhile, Gomez is a very bright prospect for the Reds and could provide a quality addition to a back four which has struggled for a number of years. The 19-year-old will now need match time at the highest level to fulfil his early potential and Klopp is making the right decision with this one.

In other Liverpool news, John Aldridge has predicted the Reds’ match against Stoke on Tuesday.