Valencia star Andre Gomes looked very close to joining Real Madrid if reports were believed to be true in recent weeks but it was their arch rivals Barcelona who had the last laugh in securing the services of the 22-year-old Portuguese international. The versatile midfielder cost Barcelona a whopping £45.8m but Gomes is right now one of the hottest prospects in world football and Barcelona can afford such an emphatic fee for a player who would be beneficial on a very long-term.
Gomes is the fourth major addition to the Blaugrana squad this summer, joining Samuel Umtiti, Denis Suarez, and Lucas Digne as new arrivals at the Camp Nou. Barcelona missing on a treble last season and rivals Real Madrid clinching the Champions League trophy has evidently hurt the Catalan giants and Luis Enrique is looking to ensure that he has a much deeper squad next season.
The arrival of Gomes is likely to be the final piece of the jigsaw, an invincible team the Blaugrana are looking for. The 22-year-old began his career in the famed Benfica youth system and eventually the senior team before moving to Valencia on loan in 2014. After a mesmerising season at Mestalla, the Los Che decided to buy him on a permanent basis for the 2015-16 season.
Gomes would certainly be a welcome addition to Barcelona but he needs time to mould into an ideal Barcelona midfielder. After all, it was the midfield department that was the key for Barcelona’s dominance when it started but now the Catalans are blessed with such an attacking trio that would overshadow even the best midfield in football.
Gomes is likely to be seen as the long-term heir of Barcelona’s very own magician Andres Iniesta. We have seen the magic of the Spaniard faded to some extent in the past season although that’s quite understandable as he is 32 now. Gomes is not a tailor-made long-term replacement for Iniesta but can be moulded to reach that height.
The Portuguese international’s passing accuracy last season was 81% which is poor when compared to Iniesta and Rakitic, both boasting 88% accurate passes. However, Gomes is just 22 and has a long time to improve on that and will certainly have to do so if he has to thrive into the passing game of the Blaugrana.
With Busquets behind them protecting the back four, it might look that the likes of Rakitic and Iniesta do not have much defensive burdens but statistics tell otherwise. Gomes’ defensive work rate needs to be addressed by Enrique. The 22-year-old won just 0.87 tackles every 90 minutes last season while he made just 0.61 interceptions.
Gomes has all the ingredients to succeed at Barcelona but the problem will be he will have to settle with plenty of time on the bench. He has to ensure that he keeps up his development as a player and learn from Iniesta and Rakitic. On a long-term, it could prove to be a brilliant deal.