How would Andre Gomes fit in this Barcelona team?
Could the capture of Andre Gomes be the missing piece in the jigsaw for the Catalan giants or does it flatter to deceive?
Barcelona shocked the entire football fraternity when they announced the capture of 22-year-old Portuguese midfielder Andre Gomes for a fee which is rumoured to be €50 million. The midfielder was linked to Barca’s arch-rivals Real Madrid for more than a week and clinching him from the grasp of their rivals would certainly come in as a morale booster for the Catalans.
The signing of Andre Gomes has raised an eyebrow or two as experts question the need of another midfielder in Barcelona’s current squad. The abundance of players in midfield should get Luis Enrique thinking about which player to include in the starting eleven.
Andre Gomes joined Portuguese giants FC Porto at a very young age of 12 but he later moved to Porto's arch rivals Benfica. He largely played his career in Portugal at Benfica B, making only 14 appearances for the reserve side. Gomes was soon loaned out to Spanish club Valencia, where he made a mark for himself. In only his first season in La Liga, Gomes made 33 appearances in the league for Los Che and scored 4 goals. Valencia soon agreed a deal with Benfica to acquire the services of the Portuguese midfielder.
Gomes did not have an impressive second season with Los Che only providing 3 assists and scoring 3 goals in 30 appearances, but considering Valencia's failure to recapture their standards, his performances shone more than his mates. He won 1.3 aerials duels per game and will be vital for Barcelona in the upcoming season.
A vital part of his playing style is to create fine gaps in the infield, which helps his side play with a tad more freedom than they would in his absence. Barcelona, although having a packed midfield lack a creative talent such as Gomes.
One of the strengths that Gomes possesses is his dribbling. His dribbles paved the way for a few goals for the Mestalla based club last season and would help Barcelona in the seasons to come. One of the reasons why Barcelona had to concede defeat to a number of teams last season was due to the lack of creative talents on the bench.
Gomes has proved it time and again that he could be the creative link that was missing in the otherwise strong Barcelona squad. He averaged 0.9 key passes per match, slightly less than 1 key pass every match and carried a pass success percentage of 81%.
The Portuguese has all the qualities that Barcelona are looking for in a player. His impressive technique on the ball and penetrating vision of finding the key spaces are just few of the qualities that he possesses.
He is quite confident when it comes to taking on the opposition and has the ability to deliver key, incisive passes. Gomes was also a key player in the Portuguese midfield under Fernando Santos, providing solidarity and acted as the creative link in the team in the recently concluded Euros.
Was this signing really required for Barcelona?
This signing has already created a lot of stir among the supporters of Barcelona. The club has already exercised the buy-back option to bring back Denis Suarez from Villarreal. The Andalusians bought the young midfielder in 2015 to fill in the void left by former Barcelona youth product Giovanni Dos Santos and Denis has already proved that he could be the creative link that any top team needs. Barcelona successfully managed to clinch Denis Suarez from Villarreal before any top club did.
The other important decision that Barcelona have taken this season is providing youth academy player Sergi Samper a well-deserved first team contract, which will keep him at the Nou Camp till 2019. Arda Turan has not yet proven his worth at his current club. The Turk was bought by Barcelona as an attacking option but did not get enough chance to prove his mettle during his first season as a player in the Blaugrana jersey.
Another midfielder who has proved his worth in the last few seasons is the versatile Sergi Roberto, who has played in around six or seven different positions under Luis Enrique. Rafinha, the last of the midfield players in the shed whose appearances have been limited due to the number of injuries that he has faced in the past few seasons.
Luis Enrique is likely to give Andre Gomes the more attacking position in midfield with Iniesta occupying the space left by Xavi Hernandez. Enrique, who is likely to use his favoured 4-3-3 formation, is almost certain to deploy Andre Gomes as an attacking midfielder.
Ivan Rakitic, who started a majority of games last season is likely to continue as a starter this season too. Andre Gomes's role is likely to be restricted to the bench and could be brought on to bring an attacking edge to the team.
Andre Gomes nevertheless, is one of the key signings that Barcelona have made this summer but has only racked up 3 goals and 3 assists in his previous campaign. Barcelona might have made a mistake in overpaying Valencia for the services of the Portuguese star.
Gomes, only aged 22, might become the linchpin player that Barcelona have ever been looking around in the market. This acquisition could also be an investment in potential rather than on current form and ability. The Spanish giants had to back out of the race in signing Juventus' Paul Pogba due to the financial constraints that they face, leaving Pogba Old Trafford bound.
Barcelona have carefully signed their players in the summer transfer window and the average age of their signed players is 22 years. Barcelona, however, have not been successful in finding the right replacement for the void that will be left by Andres Iniesta and that could be the most worrying aspect for fans of the La Liga side.