Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure from Manchester United negatively affected several first team players. Nick Powell, Wilfried Zaha, Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie were among those left in limbo.
But also spare a thought for the players hoping to earn a dream move to Old Trafford, and saw it collapse. Teenager Bruno Gomes was one of those.
Gomes was playing for Desportivo Brazil, a club who United had a partnership with. As part of this arrangement he flew in to train at Carrington and was even pictured with Sir Alex Ferguson, and in separate pictures with Rio Ferdinand and Anderson [Mail].
United had a first option deal to sign the young striker, who hit headlines by scoring seven goals in one development squad match.
The Mail had reported Sir Alex was considering inviting Gomes on the club’s pre-season tour, before his retirement saw such plans cancelled.
Why didn’t the deal go through?
Brazil’s regulations meant clubs cannot sign young players before they reach 18, which meant United had to wait.
It wasn’t just Sir Alex who left in 2013. David Gill retired and was replaced by Ed Woodward. This led to a chaotic first summer in charge.
In December 2013, United had backed off and become reluctant to sign a striker who had netted 100 goals in a three year spell in Brazilian youth football. Gomes, perhaps tired of waiting, or realising an offer may never come, signed instead with Internacional.
United’s partnership with Desportivo was reported by The Telegraph in 2015 to have ended.
What happened next?
It was feared Gomes may embarrass United, for letting him slip through our grasp. Instead, he hasn’t kicked on.
As is probably already evident from the fact Gomes isn’t a world star, United have no reason to regret not pushing through a move.
He didn’t crack Internacional’s first team, but he did eventually get his move to Europe.
In January 2016, Italian side Genoa took a punt and brought him in on loan. He didn’t make a first team appearance but did score 8 goals in 16 games for their youth team.
This earned him a permanent transfer to Portuguese side Estoril, where he had a promising start, scoring eight goals in the 2016/17 season.
Unfortunately he trailed off after that, having loan spells further down the Portuguese football ladder, and scored just one goal.
This past November he signed as a free agent for Italian Serie C side Modena. He has made six appearances without scoring.
Gomes is 23-years-old and faces a battle to make a long term career in professional football at this rate.
It’s a far cry from the hopes he once had, and a quite a sad tale of a promising talent not achieving his goal. Did United get a lucky escape? Or could it have been totally different with United’s coaches? Perhaps Gomes simply didn’t recover mentally from missing out on his dream move.
Like many situations with Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, it’s a case of wondering what might have been.
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