The enigma that is André Gomes has been one of the key talking points for the Catalan giants this season. Moving north from Valencia following his Euro 2016 triumph for an astronomical fee in the region of £50 million, it’s been glaringly obvious to all that he’s yet to live up to his titanic price tag.
Criticised for his lackadaisical demeanour, unadventurous passing and lack of creativity, Gomes’ reputation has been greatly maimed in spite of the countless plaudits he received following his exemplary 2015/16 campaign at the Mestalla.
The 23-year-old has been in and out of Luis Enrique’s starting XI this season during his debut campaign for the Spanish giants. Expectations were high when Gomes signed for the Blaugrana. However, in recent weeks it’s reported that Messi is growing frustrated with Gomes’ contribution and the Argentine superstar believes Barcelona should sell him, Spanish publication Diario Gol claim.
From bad to worse
In contrast to his performances over two seasons at Valencia, Gomes has yet to live up to his potential in the Catalan capital and although the criticism he’s received at times is unjust, by no means has he deserved great plaudits. Luis Enrique has given the 23-year-old countless chances, very few of which he’s performed in the manner he has done in previous years. This past weekend he was given a start once more in Barcelona’s 2-0 defeat to Malaga and again, his performance was lacklustre.
In the 61 minutes where he was on the field, Gomes failed to recover a single ball. In addition to this, he only won 16 percent of his duels, the lowest percentage of the 28 players who played. His contributions on the ball also made for unflattering stats, with Gomes’ involvement minimal. With 24 passes, he was the Barcelona player with the least engagement, apart from goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who made 20. Andres Iniesta and Sergi Roberto, who came on at half time, made 38 and 26 respectively.
Gomes operates predominantly as a box-to-box central midfielder, where his sublime technique and impressive physical stature allow him to make penetrating runs through the opposition’s midfield. Of late, however, Gomes seems to have altered his game drastically. Instead, he often sits in front of Barcelona’s back three opting to make basic passes backwards or sideways, much to the dismay of many of the Barcelona faithful.
To make matters worse for the former Valencia man, Luis Enrique has altered his position on a number of occasions, even experimenting with him as a right winger. The lack of confidence in his game is transparent for all to bare witness to; the fact that he’s been unable to cement one position to make his own has only made things far more difficult for the Portugal international.
Gomes’ stats so far this season have been unimpressive to say the least. He’s averaged 0.3 key passes per game, 0.6 dribbles per game and 0.7 shots per game, not to mention the fact he only has one assist and one goal to his name in 37 appearances for the Catalan giants. Contrast that to his numbers for Portugal during their Euro 2016 triumph, where he provided 1.6 key passes per game, 1.4 dribbles per game and 1.2 shots per game. It’s clear that the Grijó native is finding life in Barcelona very difficult indeed.
Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com
The lack of confidence in Gomes’ game this season has been detrimental, and this is shown when comparing his statistics with Barcelona and Portugal. His passing accuracy appears to be impressive for Barcelona (94.6%). However, in actual fact, it’s only so high due to the lack of adventure and confidence in his passing when wearing the Barça shirt. In contrast, his passing accuracy for Portugal reads in at 82.3%, along with 1.6 key passes per game, which displays how differently he approaches games for club and country.
Style of play
As previously stated, Gomes’ best position is when used as a box-to-box midfielder. His athletic ability and technical prowess allow for him to transition defence to attack in a comfortable and efficient manner. His technical ability also allows for him to maintain possession of the ball in tight spaces, as seen in the clip below where he illustrates a snippet of his former self.
Despite the countless qualities he possesses as a central midfielder, André Gomes’ composure in front of goal should not be overlooked regardless of his lack of end product this season. Last season at the Mestalla he scored goals from various positions, whether it be emphatically, a poacher-like finish or a penetrating run through the opposition’s defence.
Defensively Gomes’ contributions have been poor. Given his impressive physical stature one would expect the Portugal international to dominate the midfield. Nevertheless, Gomes has only provided 1.1 tackles per game on average, along with 0.4 interceptions and 0.2 clearances. Much of the frustration towards Gomes has derived from the lack of tenacity he’s showed defensively, often showing an alarming apathy when it comes to ensuring no danger is created by the opposition.
What does the future hold for André Gomes?
Certainly, Gomes has quality in abundance. Many players past and present have struggled greatly when they have arrived at the Camp Nou. Taking into account his young age and the criticisms he is receiving on a daily basis from an incredibly demanding fan-base, along with speculation that some Barcelona’s stars are reportedly calling for Gomes to be sold this summer, it’s not surprising that his confidence is at an all-time low.
At 23, Gomes is young enough to change the course of his career and become the top-class player we witnessed over the previous two seasons. The key to that happening will be for the next manager to rebuild his self-esteem and home in on one position for the Portuguese to blossom into the player he has shown he can be. The question is, at a club where winning and winning in style is a constant necessity, will he be given time to turn things around?
by Marino Peixoto