When Paul Pogba controversially departed Manchester United back in 2012, there was a feeling of inevitably that the player would go on to achieve big things.
The Frenchman’s potential was evident for all to see, but he become frustrated over the lack of first-team opportunities, and when he found himself behind Rafael Da Silva in the pecking order, enough was enough.
It remains to be seen whether Angel Gomes has had his ‘final straw’ moment with the club, but everything seems to be pointing in this direction. As per the Manchester Evening News, the midfielder is refusing to sign a new contract due to doubts over his pathway into the first-team. Will he be a Pogba 2.0?
With his current deal set to expire next month, the 19-year-old looks destined to leave the club on a free transfer, after rejecting multiple offers throughout the season.
Gomes’ reluctance to commit to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s project has made him quite the outcast out of his academy peers, with names like Mason Greenwood, Brandon Williams, Tahiti Chong and James Garner all putting pen to paper on new deals. Investing in the youth has been one of the Norwegian’s main priorities since taking charge, alongside integrating such talents into the first-team picture.
In fairness to the playmaker, his chances have been more limited than the aforementioned players. He’s been included in ten senior matchday squads, making just six appearances. Three of these have been starts in the Europa League, a competition that Solskjaer has utilised to give the youth a chance. Gomes has impressed during such camoes, maintaining a 91.3% pass success rate, averaging 1.7 key passes per game.
The teenager’s experience in the Premier League has been a different story though, racking up just nineteen minutes on the field this season. This is where the frustration has primarily stemmed from, particularly given the side’s lack of creativity at times.
Throughout youth level, Gomes has gained praise for his ability to bring the ball forward and create openings in the final third. His low centre of gravity enables him to turn quickly in possession, not being afraid to take an opponent on. In his three Europa games, he averaged 1.7 dribbles per 90 minutes from the midfield.
Such a skillset could have been deployed more this season, particularly when United have found themselves up against a deep block. Their tendency to solely rely on the counter has been the side’s downfall at times, as they have struggled against teams that like to restrict room in the final third. Daniel James, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial prefer running in-behind, with the attacking shape becoming clustered against lower-tabled sides.
The home defeat to Burnley back in January immediately springs to mind as an exmaple, a fixture where Gomes was forced to watch on from the sidelines. Both Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard were selected over the youngster that day – a reoccurring narrative that has seemingly pushed the midfielder to the exit doors. Both these players find themselves ahead of Gomes in the pecking order, despite their lack of attacking output on the field.
There has been very little to suggest that this pattern would change next season, hence the teenager’s reluctance to stay. He feels he is at a pivotal stage in his career and ready for the next step, with the club not offering enough encouragement to make Gomes feel like the place to do so is at Old Trafford.
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