Even before his first-team debut, Angel Gomes had long been one of the most exciting youth prospects to have come through the Manchester United academy in recent years.
The 19-year-old Englishman has shined throughout all age groups, most notably the u18s – where he netted 12 goals and half a dozen assists – and has been likened to everyone from Paul Scholes to Andres Iniesta.
However, despite other graduates like Scott McTominay, Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams regularly breaking into the first team, Gomes’ chances have been few and far between.
Other fringe players like Tahith Chong and James Garner have also managed to surpass his total play-time in just a handful of appearances, and whilst they have shown glimpses of potential, Gomes has still only made a few modest cameos in lesser fixtures.
After only playing nineteen minutes in the Premier League and just three starts in the Europa League, it is no surprise that he is considering his future. According to reports, Gomes is still yet to sign a new deal, with the current offer of a three-year contract worth up to £30,000 a week still on the table.
This comes after United’s previous offer of a two-year deal and a salary of £25,000 a week was rejected, during the club’s last spree of extensions. But why has the supposed starlet not seen quite the same treatment as his contemporaries?
Blood runs red
Gomes maintains that breaking into the first team was a dream come true and that competing for major trophies as a senior player has always been the plan. What’s more, the midfielder has an even deeper connection to United than many, as not only did he join his boyhood club at the age of six, but he is also the godson of former winger, Luis Nani.
So, if United has always played such a huge part in his personal and professional life, why would he be so ready to leave so soon? The easy answer is lack of minutes: the frustration at seeing other academy graduates feature more frequently in the first team is perfectly understandable.
However, he is still one of the youngest players in the squad and shouldn’t expect too much too soon. Part of the reason other fledgling talents have begun to seal their spot in the tea is not only through injuries, but because they grabbed the opportunity when it presented itself.
It remains unclear as to whether any other factors are playing a part behind the scenes, but with all of his fellow graduates accepting new deals, as well as renewals for other players that remain a key part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plan, like Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, it is entirely possible.
With his future in doubt since the summer, Gomes has been courted by a number of clubs, including Barcelona and Inter Milan, with the most serious interest coming from Stamford Bridge.
On the one hand, Frank Lampard’s set up at Chelsea makes a lot of sense: he is still looking to fill the creative void left by Eden Hazard and, similar to Ole’s approach, has been building a young, primarily British squad.
On the other hand, with their transfer ban having now been dropped, this long-term strategy may be swapped out for more ready-made solutions, with the acquisition of Hakim Ziyech already paying credence to this.
The logical route forward, obviously, would be to send him out on loan: not only would a future at United still be on the cards but he would stand a greater chance of regular minutes, should that still not be a concern. His small stature and lack of physicality may have been an issue up to this point, whereas, a loan move offers a chance not only for his game to develop but his body too.
Should he eventually choose to sign and stay in the fold, his emergence may coincide with a changing of the guard, as phasing out other older players like Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic may free up spots in that midfield rotation.
Regardless, he must be patient and make more of those minor appearances – there seems to be no question about his ability but the fact is, he hasn’t really proved himself when it’s counted just yet. The real question is, will Angel remain a Devil, or will his United career be over before it has truly even started?
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