Angel Gomes was a notable omission from Manchester United’s matchday squad against AZ Alkmaar last night.
United had to balance the squad with young players and senior stars, with Marcus Rashford and Fred among the substitutes.
Gomes’ young teammate Mason Greenwood scored twice, while Brandon Williams and James Garner started, with Tahith Chong and Ethan Laird coming off the bench.
There is a big concern among fans about Gomes’ expiring contract. He is free to leave the club next June.
He has three starts this season in the Europa League out of a possible six, and just nine minutes of Premier League action.
Considering United’s clear weakness in his preferred position, it’s a disappointing return.
Supporters are understandably concerned that this latest snub could prompt Gomes to walk away, having been pictured in training in the build up to the game, and failing to make the 18.
It’s up to him
The 19-year-old will want to play regularly, and he has been patient up to this point. There’s an offer on the table from United to extend, but he has not been won over.
Gomes has regularly captained the under-23 team and often looks too good for that level. He needs to be tested with first team football.
He has shown flashes of excellence in his first team minutes, and his pre-season individual goal against Tottenham showed a tantalising glimpse of what he is capable of.
Gomes is slight physically, and it was always likely going to take a bit longer for him to work his way into United’s first team. He can still get there.
The question is over how patient he is willing to be. Can United convince him to sign a new deal with a genuine pathway to first team football, which might involve going out on loan?
Last night was a blow for Gomes, there’s no getting away from that. He was one of United’s brighter players against Astana and played better than Tahith Chong, who got another chance.
But it is right not to over react just yet, not when United have a Carabao Cup quarter-final next week.
This is an opportunity for United to bring Gomes back into the matchday squad, at least on the bench.
Chong got his chance last night, and didn’t really grab it, and it is time for United to recall Gomes.
If the teenager does not get an opportunity, and is not even on the bench, Gomes’ future at United will begin to look very concerning.
His position is one United want to strengthen in the transfer window, and he is not being given enough reason to want to stay put.
A cup quarter-final start against Colchester at Old Trafford could still win him over.
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