Ones To Watch: Angel Gomes; Manchester United shining light

Adilson Angel Abreu de Almeida Gomes, or as he is better known, Angel Gomes, is a name that many Manchester United supporters would have heard for a while now. He is one of the most talented players in the Academy, and has been praised by many for the past few years, at different levels of course. Gomes made his bow in the Manchester United U18 side in the 2014/15 season, making one appearance, albeit from the bench. The following season, Gomes was part of the U18 squad making 18 appearances (ten of them starts), scoring three goals and assisting a further six. That was a great rise to fame for the then 15-year-old. This season, a better season for the U18’s, Gomes has made 14 appearances so far, starting 13 times, scoring eight goals and assisting a further six goals. Gomes is the ray of light within the U18’s was even last season when the squad lost twelve consecutive league appearances, needing restructuring in the summer, which happens with the reinforcement of the squad with the likes of Lee O’Connor, Tahith Chong, Nishan Burkart, Alex Fojticek and Joshua Bohui, not to mention to rise of Indy Boonen, Ilias Moutha-Sebtaoui and others in the talented age group. Academy head Nicky Butt has praised Gomes, saying:

“Angel Gomes is a young talented player that we have massive hopes for.”

Gomes has been linked to Barcelona, despite his father suggesting that Manchester United was his son’s dream club and the club he wants to rise through the ranks of, meaning that Barcelona and probably other teams will be circling like vultures around the player in years to come. Gomes’ rise is not just at club level, he is the captain of England’s U16 squad, where he is just as impressive as he has been for United. He then moved up to U17 level, helping England beat Germany 8-1. Gomes is likely to be a player that astounds many in the years to come, and as he is only 16-years-old, to achieve what he has done so far, will only be something he adds to. Manny suggest he should be playing first team football, he might fit into the team well, but considering he has not yet had any U23 level football at the club, he could find himself well out of his depth. There is no reason to throw him in at the deep end just yet, he needs to bond with his teammates at U18 level, create a great team at that level, and before we know it, the likes of Gomes, Chong, Boonen and Burkart could be talked about in the same vein  as the famous Class of 1992.

Gomes is not the cousin of former Manchester United winger Nani, who is now playing for Valencia in La Liga, which many will have you believe. The player is already more exciting than Nani, though, and at the U18 level, seems more consistent in his performances. The 16-year-old was named the Premier Cup’s Most Valuable Player in 2015, with Manchester United failing to make the latter stages of the tournament, which is some achievement based on the talent that can be found playing in the tournament. Played in the number ten role, Gomes is assured on the ball and has wide passing range. Gomes has bags of potential and should he reach that, United could have someone special in their team once again, not that they don’t have right now. Gomes has been at Manchester United for nine years, since he was seven years old. He broke in the U15 side at the age of 13, then into the U18 side at the age of 14, being an unused substitute many times, making his U18 debut in the 2014/15 season, as mentioned before.

Gomes, making his full debut the following season, became the youngest Manchester United player, in more than 15 years, to score a hat-trick, which was achieved in the 2015/16 season against Newcastle United in a 5-1 victory. That season did not go too well for United at U18 level, but the current season is looking so much better with the side second in the Premier League U18, a point behind leaders Manchester City, who have two games in hand themselves. It is a big turnaround after last season though, especially in that United have scored more goals after 15 matches, than they did in the entirety of last season. Gomes himself has scored eight goals, assisting a further six this season, with his teammates scoring well too. In total, United have scored 43 goals this season, conceding 23 goals, which is a massive improvement. Manchester City, a team they have been beaten by and drawn against this season, stay in the driving seat though, but with many matches left in the season, anything could happen.

United face their first opponents in the FA Youth Cup on Monday evening at Old Trafford, facing Southampton. This is a tournament which United have won ten times in the history of the club, and this season, with the talent at their disposal, the likes of Gomes, Boonen, Chong, Burkart et al could all be making themselves even further known in the game they love. Gomes will hopefully emerge as one of the stars this season, which he is well on the way to achieving, and a trophy at this level at the end of the season will show that hard work can pay off for youngsters at the club, which will give every player at the Academy something to strive for over the coming years. You may have heard a lot about Angel Gomes so far, but expect more to come from the 16-year-old, a lot more.

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