Who is Andre Gomes? In-depth profile of Man United transfer target

by Ravi Gill

Another player who Manchester United have been linked with a move for this summer is Andre Gomes. The Valencia midfielder is currently at Euro 2016 with Portugal which has given Man United fans a chance to see him in action.

However, not many fans would have watched a lot of Gomes this season in La Liga; with that in mind, The Peoples Person’s Ravi Gill had a chat with Matthew Law, European sports editor for Sports Mole, to give you all some much needed insight into Gomes and why there is so much talk around him.

Hi Matthew. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Matthew Law and I’ve worked as a sports journalist since 2010. During that period, I’ve built up a strong knowledge of the European game and closely followed La Liga football.

First up, could you please tell us who Andre Gomes is?

Andre Gomes is a 22-year-old midfielder from Portugal. He spent three years in the Porto academy between 2005 and 2008 and also represented Boavista during his youth career. It was Benfica that handed Gomes his big break after joining their academy in 2011. In October 2012, the midfielder made his league debut for Benfica and went on to make 18 first-team appearances during the 2012-13 season, although he also still represented Benfica B.

During the 2013-14 campaign, Gomes made 23 appearances in all competitions and found the back of the net on two occasions. In the summer of 2014, Gomes agreed a one-year loan with Valencia in what was quite a complicated deal – Gomes’ economic rights were owned by Singaporean businessman Peter Lim and a loan deal was agreed to take him and Rodrigo Moreno to Valencia due to Lim purchasing the Spanish club.

His flicks, tricks and skills thrilled Valencia supporters in the 2014-15 campaign while he also put in starring performances against the likes of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid. Unfortunately for him, a muscular injury he picked up on the penultimate weekend of the season resulted in surgery and a summer of recovery. In all, Gomes made 37 appearances during the 2014-15 season for Valencia, before his initial loan move was made permanent in the summer of 2015. An agreement was reached on Gomes’ rights that transferred him to Valencia on a contract until June 2020.

After returning to fitness in October, Gomes, who is a client of super-agent Jorge Mendes, was a regular starter during the 2015-16 season and ended the campaign with five goals in 41 appearances – including three in 30 La Liga games for the former Spanish champions.

How would you describe Gomes as a player? What areas of the game does he excel at? What needs some work?

A typical Portuguese midfielder, Gomes is classy in possession of the ball and has a strong tactical knowledge. Despite mainly being a ball-player in the middle of the park, his 6″2 frame means that he also brings a physical nature to the position.

His career total of 21 goals in 134 appearances shows that he is capable of finding the back of the net but I feel that a player of his ability should be scoring more and he has only managed nine goals in 77 appearances for Valencia. That will be a slight concern for Man United but his use of the ball and technique would certainly fit into the English game.

It is widely thought that Valencia value Gomes in the region of £40m, which would have been seen as excessive five years ago, but seems to fit into the current market. At the age of 22, he will only get better and could thrive under the leadership of a certain Jose Mourinho.

What kind of season did he have for Valencia C.F. during their disappointing 2015/2016 campaign?

There is no getting away from the fact that it was a disappointing 2015-16 campaign for Valencia and Gomes. Like a number of his team-mates, he did struggle for periods of the season as he bid to overcome a long-term injury. The midfielder was still arguably his team’s best player for long spells though, especially in the second half of the campaign.

There was a slight criticism of Gomes’ character when things started to go wrong, but that was more of a team problem than the player himself. It is widely thought that Gomes is happy at the Mestalla, but would be interested in furthering his career if the opportunity arose.

In all honesty, Gomes was better for Valencia during the 2014-15 season than he was last term but injuries played a big part in that. In his short career thus far, he has already won the Portuguese title and finished as runners-up in the Europa League on two occasions. What’s more, he has plenty of senior Portuguese caps after representing his country in every age group from Under-17 level.

Do you liken Gomes to any player currently plying his trade in the Premier League?

Gomes reminds me of former Chelsea midfielder and fellow Portuguese Tiago, who currently represents Atletico Madrid. He always seems to have time on the ball and has that ability to find space in tight areas and pick a pass in the final third of the field.

It would be wrong to expect Gomes, if he did arrive in the Premier League, to fly into challenges and dominate the game physically; he would be very different to a number of other Premier League midfielders. It is obvious that Mourinho wants to bolster his midfield this summer and a move for a player that looks after the ball so well would be a perfect fit.

His use of the ball and willingness to look forward could be comparable to Michael Carrick but he is quicker and more direct than the experienced Englishman and would provide more of a threat in the final third of the field.

How would you assess Gomes’ ceiling as a player?

It would be unfair to expect Gomes to immediately become a star in the Premier League but there is no question that he has the ability to develop into one of the finest midfielders in the European game. Spanish football does allow players, certainly midfielders, more time in possession of the ball but defending in the Premier League is not strong at the moment.

It seems that Mourinho fancies Rooney as a central midfielder next season and Paul Pogba is also believed to be a target for the 20-time English champions. Gomes would be capable of sitting alongside Rooney in a holding position and has the energy to contribute all over the park. World-class is a difficult thing to judge, but Gomes could well become one of the best midfielders in European football over the next couple of seasons.

Thank you to Ravi Gill and Matthew Law for this interview.

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