In the past few days (former) Valencia attacking midfielder Andre Gomes on a long term contract. The question on most people’s mind in why.
Gomes has primarily played up till now as a number 10 – and with Barca almost always playing 433 there is no natural fit for him. Granted he has played in a pivot before so would likely be comfortable in the midfield 3 for Barca, and sometimes has played wide as well. So he can fit in with a little compromise.
But It isn’t like Barcelona actually need anyone of that mould – swap Gomes for Rafinha Alcantara and its all still true. Turan can also play the offensive midfield roles, so can Denis Suarez and Sergi Roberto. Even Busquets and Sergi Samper are capable there, even if the holding role is a more natural fit.
So thats 6 capable BACKUPS! Because the starting offensive midfielders (Iniesta and Rakitic) haven’t even been mentioned yet!
Out wide the situation isn’t much better – Turan, Rafinha, Denis Suarez, Munir and Sergi can all play wide, with the immovable objects of Messi and Neymar having both wide roles locked down.
Gomes isn’t going to take a starting spot from any of Rakitic, Iniesta, Messi or Neymar. Rafinha and Turan are both better centrally, Suarez and Turan (again) better wide. Gomes joining really doesn’t add up.
Then question then takes another turn – he’s 22. Maybe he’s a signing for the future. Possible in a round-about way, but he cost £45 million! Backups for youth development aren’t even close to that expensive – 22 isn’t even that young in football terms.
It’s also not like recent form is on his side either, Valencia (Gomes included) were largely awful last season. Going through 4 managers in quick succession and finishing as low as 12th after flirting with a relegation fight. Then you compare him to his competition at Barca next season (based on La Liga):
Summed up: worst, best, worst, worst, second worst, third worst, third worst, second worst.
In fact if you add up on a points system (best = 5, worst = 1)
the ranking ends up like this:
- 1. Rafinha (32 points)
- =2. Turan (25 points)
- =2. Roberto (25 points)
- 4. Suarez (20 points)
- 5. Gomes (18 points)
So that makes Andre Gomes statistically Barcelona’s WORST attacking midfielder. It’s even worse than it sounds as well – two of the times he came bottom are total score and possession score. Total score speaks for itself – all things considered he played badly (not unlike the rest of Valencia). But the fact the possession score is (very) bad as well, yet he pitched up at Barca of all places is baffling. Admittedly Barca are now more direct than they were under Pep and Tito but they still dominate possession in almost every single game.
The story in the recent EURO 2016 is similar – expected to be the driving force in the midfield alongside players like Joao Mario, Joao Moutinho and William Carvalho, instead he drifted off into obscurity and everyone forgot about him.
Frankly I could go on for pages about why Gomes isn’t close to being good enough for £45 million but that isn’t the question. The question is why did he sign – now I will put forward my suggestion:
So Real Madrid Couldn’t.
Real Madrid had been linked to Andre Gomes for weeks, with even Zidane himself talking him up. Suddenly though, after almost no speculation or links, he’s announced as a Barcelona player.
Look back to 31 March 2015. Danilo was announced as a Real Madrid played in March after months of speculation he would be the replacement for the (assumed leaving at that point) Dani Alves.
The circumstances were odd – Announcing a transfer in late march, about as far from a transfer window as possible, for an exorbitant fee after little indication of interest from either party. Real Madrid didn’t need a RB – Carvajal is one of the best in the world, Arbeloa was a good backup and Nacho could easily slide across.
Instead Real Madrid signed a unneeded player for huge money largely because it would be a blow to Barcelona. Now Barcelona have signed a unneeded player for huge money largely because it would be a blow to Real Madrid.
Do Barca need Andre Gomes? No, but stopping Real Madrid from strengthening appears reason enough for Barca.
All stats per Squawka.com