Liverpool youngster Joe Gomez has barely featured for Liverpool due to a series of injuries over the last two years but recent rumours have linked the highly-rated 19-year-old with a move to Champions League holders Real Madrid.
We asked our club correspondents Glenn Price (Liverpool) and Dermot Corrigan (Real Madrid) about the validity of these links and to assess the potential of Gomez ultimately making a move to the Bernabeu.
Glenn Price (Liverpool correspondent)
This is one of the strangest transfer reports we're expected to see ahead of the transfer window opening. Joe Gomez has barely featured for Liverpool this season as he still is going about proving his fitness after over a year out with numerous injuries.
The 19-year-old has made just three appearances for Liverpool this season and 10 outings in total for the Reds since his £3.5 million from Charlton Athletic in the June 2015.
But in that short time at Anfield, Gomez has more than displayed the potential to show that he will become a top-class defender in the future. He began his career as a makeshift left-back under Brendan Rodgers, impressing in the position before suffering a cruel ACL injury in October 2015 — just days after Jurgen Klopp was appointed manager.
Klopp took an extremely keen liking to him early on but would have to bide his time on working with Gomez after he sustained an Achilles injury just this past summer.
The defender slowly worked his way back up to full fitness with frequent appearances for the under-23s, but Klopp was always paying close attention to his comeback.
Sources told ESPN FC in December that Klopp was willing to let Liverpool's longest-serving player, Lucas Leiva, depart the club because he was confident that Gomez was ready for action in the second-half of the season at centre-half.
The reality has been different, however. Gomez has struggled in his three appearances — all in the FA Cup against Plymouth Argyle twice and then Wolverhampton Wanderers. Liverpool have used Lucas or veteran Ragnar Klavan as deputy whenever Dejan Lovren or Joel Matip have been unavailable.
Not that those trio of shaky performances have affected Klopp's thinking in anyway whatsoever. The German has been stressing the need for patience when it comes to the youngster and he was influential in the club's decision to hand Gomez a new long-term deal back in January.
Gomez is a hugely-promising player, but far from the finished article. He has a contract with Liverpool for the next five years and huge admirers on Merseyside. Anfield is still the best place for him to continue his development.
Dermot Corrigan (Real Madrid correspondent)
The idea that Real Madrid might be interested in signing young Liverpool reserve defender Joe Gomez is among the more far-fetched of the transfer rumours currently doing the rounds between the English and Spanish press.
This has the look of one of those "purple, monkey, dishwasher" type rumours that bounces around between various newspapers and websites, getting translated from English to Spanish and back again numerous times, until the initial "news" has been twisted out of all recognition.
It is true that Madrid could be in the market for a defender this summer, with veteran Pepe likely to move on when his current contract ends, with China reportedly the most likely destination.
The Bernabeu outfit could also do with cover at left-back, as long-time reserve Fabio Coentrao's time at the club must surely be coming to an end soon as well.
It is far from clear how England underage international Gomez, with his few Premier League appearances, could have appeared on the La Liga giants' radar. There has been some speculation from time to time that Madrid might move for another Liverpool left-sided defender, with Alberto Moreno having been a target of the club a few years back before he joined Liverpool from Sevilla. But if neither player can get close to the first team at Anfield it seems unlikely they would have the profile required of most new signings at Madrid.
A new left-back might arrive, but it is likely to be someone of the profile of Wolfsburg's Ricardo Rodriguez, someone who could actually challenge first-choice Marcelo for a starting spot. There is also already the presence of homegrown, long-time servant Nacho Fernandez, a versatile option that covers all positions at the back.
Madrid also currently have two promising young centre-backs out on loan. In particular 20-year old Jesus Vallejo, who has been earning rave reviews at Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt this season. Vallejo joined Madrid from Real Zaragoza in a €5 million deal in 2015, and is very highly rated in Spain and expected to be challenging for a first-team place at the Bernabeu within a few years.
The other, Diego Llorente, 23, impressed at Rayo Vallecano in 2015-16 but has played less regularly in another loan year out at Malaga this year. He would still be seen as a more likely "fourth" centre-back for next year, should he be needed.
To sum up, it seems very, very unlikely that Gomez will be joining Madrid next summer.