Angel Gomes, who currently plays for our top four rivals Manchester United, is linked with a move to Chelsea. The 19-year old’s contract is on the verge of expiration and just six appearances over the course of what was dubbed his “breakthrough season” at the club have forced his agent to look for greener pastures for his client. The attacking midfielder, who has represented England at the youth level, has been highly rated by several current as well as ex-players. Angel Gomes portrayed his ability for everyone to see at the U17 World Cup in India in 2017, where he stood out in a team that had the likes of Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Rhian Brewster, and Callum Hudson-Odoi. The Englishman, who is also eligible to represent Portugal and Angola, was the Manchester-based club’s youngest debutant since 1953. He was also the first player born in the 2000s to feature in the Premier League.
Manchester United has a reputation of being a club that promotes its academy prospects; however, such hasn’t been the case for Gomes. While players like Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams have had their fair share of minutes this season, Angel Gomes has been left out of the match-day squad on several occasions. This has led to him making just 13 appearances across all competitions- including the youth leagues. What’s irked him more- which he probably cannot mention publicly- is the fact that players like Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard feature ahead of him. These were United’s only options in the attacking midfield position prior to the big name arrival of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Club de Portugal in January. While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues to praise Gomes in his press conferences, his actions speak louder than words. And with the youngster’s contract due to expire in a month’s time, the ball is in his court. Despite the club’s executives offering him a lucrative deal, what Gomes desires is the guarantee of playing time. And going by this season’s numbers, he’s found that hard to come by. The signing of Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes will only diminish his playing time further as his fellow competitors do not look on their way out of the club.
A club which has recently emerged as a youth enthusiast after being accused of years of wasting talent is none other than Chelsea, under the guidance of Frank Lampard and ex-academy manager Jody Morris. And this newfound identity of the club seems to be appealing to Gomes, as he is keen to jump ship and join the party at Stamford Bridge. Interestingly, Gomes was born in London and could look to return to his birthplace, despite growing up in Salford. But do we require him?
Style of Play
Angel Gomes has often featured in the attacking midfield position or the “number 10 role” as it is widely regarded. He’s also played out wide on either flank in the youth leagues. The Englishman is neither the quickest nor the strongest- in fact he’s pretty short, standing at 168cms. However, this gives him a low center of gravity and is blessed with dextrous feet which he utilizes to the fullest. He also boasts a good passing range and is brilliant at set-piece delivery. His small stature permits him to get into minuscule gaps, but he also falls back to pick the ball from the defensive phase and advance play at times. In short, for comparison, he reminds me of Juan Mata’s Chelsea days, albeit preferring to use his right foot on most occasions.
However, Manchester United Academy Director Nicky Butt claims that his best position could be in the deep-lying pivot role in midfield, as Gomes is pretty fluent when it comes to dictating play, and is beaming with creativity every time he’s on the ball. This thought was seconded by academy graduate Danny Webber, who compared Gomes to Scholes, who is not only an icon at Old Trafford but a Premier League legend. The high praise does not end here, as Portuguese winger Nani (who’s also Gomes’ godfather) claimed all the way back in 2015 that Gomes would go on to have a very successful and decorated career at Manchester United.
Going by this season, however, it seems like a bold claim. As I mentioned earlier, he was benched by Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira, which makes us wonder about his quality. In the six appearances he has made for the first team, he’s yet to contribute to a single goal. Bearing in mind that he’s played just under 300 minutes of football, he’s made 198 passes with 89% accuracy, with 34 forward passes- indicating that he might be suited as a deep-lying playmaker after all. He’s also created eight chances.
His lack of first-team football is fascinating because he has absolutely dominated the youth leagues. Often the standout player, he has scored four goals and further set up two more in just five appearances in the Premier League 2, and has even captained the side. He made 16 appearances in the same league in the 2018/19 season and contributed to six goals while also setting up five more. He also scored a couple of goals in the UEFA Youth League. These numbers prove what Angel Gomes can do if provided opportunities on a consistent basis.
Do we need him?
Now onto the real question- do we need him? We are pretty stacked in the midfield department with Mount, Barkley, and Loftus-Cheek who has gained match fitness. Gallagher could return from his loan spell, and the likes of Anjorin are waiting to be introduced to first-team football as well. That being said, Gomes was very promising at the youth level and if he could recreate the same form in the first team, he could put the first choice spot in the team up for grabs. Not to mention that signing a player for free at the tender age of 19 is a very low-risk transfer, and offers high resale value should things not work out. His wages are not extraordinary either, and we could have him on our payroll without a big dent.
My personal opinion would be to sign the likes of Aouar or Coutinho who are available and bring in loads of experience. While Gomes is not a must-sign, there are very few arguments that can be made for not signing him should he choose to see his contract out and become a free agent. He fits the outlook of our club and would gel well with the rest of the squad. However, Manchester United are known for their last-minute deals- even with teenagers, as we saw in the case of Tahith Chong. Hence, it would be interesting to see if Gomes can reach an agreement with the Red Devils, but if he doesn’t, Chelsea should pounce on the opportunity and sign him up.
Written by – Ameya
Twitter – @LampardsLegacy
Picture edit by – @Miz9Rahman