A central or attacking midfield player, who is also comfortable on the wing due to his skill, Angel Gomes is very highly thought of by near all of his observers, his frame may be small but his potential is anything but. London born but Salford-raised, Gomes’ father is former footballer Gil Gomes, a highly thought of player himself once upon a time, and he’ll surely be hoping for much more for his son as he tries to make the breakthrough at United. He pronounces his first name in the English way instead of the way Ángel Di María or Àngel Rangel do which is indicative of his upbringing and explains why the England U16 captain looks set to choose his nation of birth although he’s eligible for both Portugal and Angola.
Described as a “prodigious youth talent,” the club has a difficult job on trying to quell the hype surrounding the 15 year-old (16 in nine days at the time of writing), although giving the way in which Manchester United is evolving commercially, they may well be eager to make his name one known to fans by the time of his first team debut should it come. Although confident in his own ability, humility is a trait that comes across in his demeanour as he focusses on making the grade at the club that he grew up supporting.
Last season as a schoolboy, Gomes made 17 appearances for the U18’s including seven substitute cameos, scoring three goals. Being a key player at that level at his age is impressive and shows how much he is rated, especially considering he’s one day away from being in the age group below. He’ll be looking to improve upon his goal tally as he certainly poses a threat in front of goal, especially from distance. What statistics don’t show at youth level, though, is that he creates a lot of chances and also has a number of assists to his name; a team player with the ability to do the spectacular individually, his game appears to have the perfect balance, unusual for a player with his level of ability on his own but certainly welcome.
In keeping with his name, the way in which he floats past players is, one can only imagine, cherub-like, with his low centre of gravity aiding his agility and acceleration. With a vast passing range and technique reminiscent of a certain Paul Scholes, he’s certainly adept in the creative department. His composure and speed of thought allow him to play in any midfield or attacking midfield role, including the number six position that he’s found himself in at international level lately, where he can orchestrate and dictate play effectively, although that duty undoubtedly restricts his attributes going forward. A set-piece master too, he shared responsibilities with fellow talent Callum Gribbin last season but with it looking like Gribbin will be spending more time with the Under-23s for this campaign, everything looks set up for Gomes to be the chief dead ball taker.
Part of a skilled but not physically gifted group of U18 players for the upcoming season, Gomes will have to rely on his ability to shield the ball extensively, especially if he is played in a role nearer to his own goal, as he won’t be winning many physical dues although to his credit he puts himself about and is not lazy when trying to win the ball back, typical of United youth players who for the most part have the work ethic drilled into them in their tender years. You won’t see him coming out on top in the air either, of course, that’s not what he’s on the side but it’s certainly something to consider as far as deciding where he’ll end up on the pitch in the future. Considering that point, deciding where his best position is will be key to his development; plying your trade in various positions is a good exercise when you’re younger but the time will soon come where he’ll have to find his place and fine-tune his skills. He will also hopefully be more aggressive with his dribbling in this coming season as he has the capability to beat multiple players in one run and is rarely halted when he does decide to get going, he was more passive last year but that can, of course, be forgiven as he felt his way around in a new level for him.
A Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo fan, his heroes have lofty accolades but he’d be wise to aspire to their level of success and skill, and his own performances lead to some suggesting that he could eventually get to a level not far below that of those that he currently admires. His eyes though should be fixed on his former teammate Marcus Rashford and the way in which he has made his mark in the first team, the Premier League and internationally. Part of a talented crop of U16 players moving up full-time to the U18’s alongside George Tanner, Aidan Barlow and new foreign recruits Nishan Burkart and Tahith Chong amongst others, all eyes certainly won’t be on him this season which coaches will certainly like and the eased pressure will surely bring out the best in Gomes although he’s still expected to be the side’s most influential player.
Seen as one of the stars of his generation in Europe, and arguably the biggest talent in Manchester United’s academy since Ravel Morrison, the hopes are high for Salford’s own. Seen as a key figure for any potential success in the FA Youth Cup this year, his drive and character will be tested thoroughly and how he responds will be a strong indicator of just how far he can go. An Under-23 debut this season is a reachable target for him and the England U17’s awaits, with higher profile tournaments soon to come and he certainly has all the talent and more to make an even bigger name for himself, it will be exciting to see how he develops.