The pre-season tour has offered many encouraging signs for Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The bright showings of Angel Gomes have been one of the many positives from their trip to Asia and Australia.
Playing from the left, Gomes has made a positive impression in the chances he has been given. He got his first senior goal for the club after he netted the winner against Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Solskjaer has used a 4-2-3-1 formation in all the games, and an interesting tactical aspect that's been observed is that Paul Pogba has been used in a double pivot, with a traditional No. 10 being deployed behind a pacy frontline.
Juan Mata remains United’s best option in the hole due to his awareness, quick thinking and creative nous in and around the box. However, he is 31 now, and his lack of pace can at times have a detrimental effect on the United attacks that require extraordinary speed.
Meanwhile, Jesse Lingard’s movement off the ball remains his best facet, but his output with the ball at his feet is quite limited.
Gomes combines the best qualities of both the above-mentioned players. He is quick and a good dribbler like Lingard, while also a neat passer with an eye for a defence-splitting pass akin to Mata.
Gomes is at his lethal best when played centrally. He registered six goals and six assists last season in the youth games, proving his effectiveness across the board.
Size and strength are considered essential qualities required to succeed in the physically demanding Premier League. But the importance of these physical aspects is usually overstated, and the absence of them sometimes leads to people writing a player off without giving them a sufficient number of opportunities.
Gomes might be smaller in stature but it is his lower center of gravity that makes him so threatening. He can wriggle past opponents effortlessly, and the way he turns, twists and trickles past them at high speed makes him a nightmare to face.
With the introduction of VAR next year in the Premier League, Gomes could be an especially tricky customer to handle. Defenders will be wary of sticking their leg outside to halt his progress in the penalty box with the overriding fear of gifting a penalty.
Gomes is a naturally gifted player and should have a bright future at the club. Although it would be unrealistic to expect him to become a first-team starter next season, he can certainly be the X factor in games against opposition teams that are hard to break down. His impeccable close control and sharp interplay can be lethal weapons in close and congested spaces.
In Mata, there is a fantastic mentor for the youngster at United already. It would make sense for Gomes to be groomed to eventually be the Spaniard's successor at the club.Published 27 Jul 2019, 22:19 IST