André Gomes, along with many others, came to Everton with a lot of fanfare and seemed to indicate a new era where the Toffees could disrupt the top-six. However, not all has gone according to plan or perhaps even how the player expected things to go.
The Portuguese player came with excellent pedigree. He was a prestigious talent from the fabled Benfica Youth Academy and then snapped up by Barcelona after spending two seasons with Valencia. However, his metronomic style hasn’t adapted well to the English Premier League.
A lost season for Gomes
This season is Gomes’s fourth in the Premier League, where he was probably hoping to have been a mainstay in the Everton midfield by now. However, his appearances have been as erratic as the Toffees’ performances, with him not being favoured by either manager this season. Since Frank Lampard has taken over from Rafa Benítez, Gomes’s playing time has dropped and become non-existent in their relegation scrap. The bookmakers have the Toffees tipped to stay up in the relegation odds, but anything could happen in the remaining games.
Gomes likely wasn’t thrilled when Rafael Benítez was appointed at the beginning of the season. He is a defensive coach whose best midfield came on the red side of Merseyside, with the combative Javier Mascherano, the wide-range passing Xabi Alonso and the all-rounder, turned attacking midfielder Steven Gerrard. Gomes doesn’t fit into any of those categories, with his game more predicated on dictating the tempo, maintaining possession and keeping a possessive-based side ticking over. Gomes’s calf injury early in the season never gave him the chance to make an impression and he only completed 90 minutes twice under Benítez.
When Frank Lampard took over as manager in January 2022, he was facing a dog fight and required the right players to overcome the dire situation he was in. Did he think that Gomes had what was needed to help make Everton a winning team?
Failure to adapt to the English Premier League
Gomes isn’t a bad player; he has 37 caps for Portugal and played for Barcelona when they had the likes of Ivan Rakitić, Andrés Iniesta and Sergio Busquets in midfield. Those things don’t add up to someone who isn’t talented enough for Everton. However, he seems to have befallen something that happens to many players who come to the Premier League, a failure to adapt.
What is peculiar is that it’s not something that usually happens to Portuguese players in the Premier League. We’ve seen the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva and Cristiano Ronaldo thrive and become world-beaters. They might be different from Gomes, but even the likes of Rúben Neves and João Moutinho have proven to be high-quality performers in the English top flight. The pace, physicality and the reluctance to get ‘stuck in’ may have hampered perceptions or his actual adjustment, which is a shame to see for such a promising player.
Everton managers’ inability to find a suitable system
Since Gomes has signed for Everton, he has played under four permanent managers, with Duncan Ferguson having two stints as interim manager. Those managers brought a different style with significant adjustments for the squad each time. However, no manager appeared to get the best out of Gomes. It seemed that Carlo Ancelotti would be able to construct a capable midfield with him and Allan, but even with a more defensive player next to him, he couldn’t flourish. What would be best for Gomes now might be to move on; the Premier League might not be for him. A fresh start away from Everton and back on the continent would likely be the best thing for Gomes.