Are Manchester United on the verge of another ‘Paul Pogba’ moment?
Angel Gomes is a 5ft 3′ attacking midfielder who’s reputation has preceded him since the ripe old age of 14 years old. A Portuguese/Englishman, he is related to ex-Reds winger Nani and a photo of him alongside side both Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo has become iconic to Gomes’ standing with Manchester United fans.
He made his Premier League debut at the tender age of 16 under Jose Mourinho, replacing then club captain Wayne Rooney in the final game of the 2016/17 season against Crystal Palace just days before United won the Europa League in Stockholm against Ajax.
He was expected to remain in the first-team picture and progress through the ranks to become a mainstay of United’s side for the foreseeable future. That hasn’t happened though.
Since that debut game in May 2017, Gomes has gone on to make just 9 more appearances for the first team and only four more in the Premier League. He hasn’t gone out on loan at all and has quite clearly become too good for the reserves league. He’s in a state of limbo in his career right now.
His contract is due to expire at the end of the current campaign and reports suggest he is being tracked by the likes of Chelsea and Barcelona. But Manchester United do want to re-sign him. According to reports, the club have offered him £30,000 p/w to stay which is a sum far above what his career achievements so far should have him earning. It speaks volumes that the Old Trafford side are willing to pay him that much despite having barely used him.
When Ole Gunnar Solskjær took over, he promised a pathway to the first team from the academy and for young players. He has delivered somewhat on that so far, with Brandon Williams, Mason Greenwood, Axel Tuanzebe and Tahith Chong becoming regulars in the senior side. However while Gomes is deemed as part of that squad, he has received much less playing time than all of them. His position on the pitch has often been filled with players performing poorly. The club then signed Bruno Fernandes to add quality rather than giving him a chance and now are continuing to be linked with other attack-minded midfield players. So why would he stay?
The club haven’t given him a sniff so far ahead of players like Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira, both who are likely to leave Old Trafford this summer due to their lacklustre performances. So why should Gomes believe he’ll get a chance ahead of players the club are spending big-money on like Fernandes or potential signings Jadon Sancho and Donny Van de Beek?
His size is definitely a factor in his lack of playing-time, with Solskjær previously mentioning his diminutive stature potentially being a hinderance to him in a physical league. So Gomes could look to try his hand abroad. He’s watched many England youth-level teammates go to Germany and do well. He could potentially seek a move in the Bundesliga. One option could be for him to go to Dortmund as a replacement for Jadon Sancho. Another option with a similar outcome could be for him to re-sign at Manchester United and then go out on loan.
Much like Real Madrid with Achraf Hakimi, they realised they had a supreme talent on their hands. They signed him to a new contract and sent him to Dortmund on a two-year loan deal so that he could continue to develop at the top level, while they still had Dani Carvajal at his peak. Hakimi is now regarded as one of the top full-backs in world football and is due to return to the Bernabeu this summer.
If Gomes decides that he needs to leave to blossom and develop, United will be facing a Paul Pogba 2.0 scenario. If he goes on to explode elsewhere, which could be very likely, United would likely have to pay a very big sum to bring him back.
Ultimately the decision lies with Gomes and how badly he wants to make it at Old Trafford. If he wants United, he’ll re-sign. If he just wants to develop and become the best he can be, and nobody should begrudge him that, then he’ll leave. It’s a tough decision but a career defining moment for a player not even out of his teens yet.