When winger Mark Gonzalez finally gets the chance to join up with Liverpool he’ll not be expecting to walk straight into the team. Chilean start Gonzalez was originally signed on loan in the summer, with a view to a permanent move, as he recovered from a knee ligament injury. The idea of the deal was to protect Liverpool should his injury fail to respond to treatment as expected – there’s no way Liverpool could have got insurance for a permanent deal as his injury stood at the time. Unfortunately this meant that Liverpool were then unable to secure a work-permit for the player, much to the disbelief of the Anfield officials.
Now that Gonzalez has shown sufficient progress in his recovery Liverpool have gone ahead and made the deal permanent, and he’s no longer an Albacete player. However, the lack of a work permit means he can’t yet even train at Melwood, never mind play for the Reds, until next summer. In the meantime the winger will be at least getting a chance to meet more of the staff and players at the club when he comes over for a visit at the end of the month.
He’s spending a year with Chilean side Universidad Catolica until the move is complete, and is desperate to get over and fight for a place in the team. He told El Mercurio: "It won’t be easy to win a place in the line-up and, if I achieve that, it won’t be easy to maintain myself there, because Liverpool is such a competitive club that, if I relax, there are two or three players who want my place."
He’s also been warned by former Newcastle player Clarence Acuna that things are different in England to what he’s been used to: "I’ve been talking a lot with him and he told me what he liked while playing for Newcastle United. He warned it is another football, totally different to the Spanish in rhythm, but I would love it and would enjoy it really much because it matches with my football qualities."
He’s also had a lot of contact with Reds boss Rafa Benitez, who’s been asking about the welfare of the 21-year-old: "He is always calling me. The last time we talked was 10 days ago. He asked me how I was feeling, if I was better from my injury. He is worried about my health."
And how is his health? "I don’t have any problems to kick the ball, that’s as strong as always, although I know I have lack of movement still. I’m eighty or ninety percent fit."
Now he’s just waiting for the call to let him know when his flight is: "They have to inform the exact date to me but I’m flying to England at the end of the month."
There was more advice for Gonzales, from former West Ham player Javier Margas: "I want Gonzalez to succeed extraordinarily in England, but it would be difficult for him. He will have to be patient because the Premier League demands a lot physically and Mark is coming back from a serious injury."