Angel Gomes could be Manchester United’s most regrettable one-that-got-away.
The midfielder’s quality was no secret from a young age. In fact, if any youngster was going to break through at Old Trafford, it was Gomes.
He became the youngest ever Manchester United Premier League debutant when he was 16. But he rarely featured since.
After just 10 senior outings for the Red Devils, Gomes rejected a new contract to move on. And he has wasted little time proving his worth.
Signing for Lille before heading on loan to Boavista, the 20-year-old already has two goals and four assists in just four appearances for the Portuguese club.
It is testament to his talent. Yet, when you consider Donny van de Beek’s lack of chances at United thus far, Gomes’s decision makes even more sense.
Van de Beek arrived at United off the back of a 10-goal and 11-assist season.
Those figures were expected to be even better at Old Trafford, with the Dutchman yet to reach his peak and regarded as one of Europe’s most exciting midfielders.
Instead, despite scoring on his debut, United’s £40million signing (BBC) has barely featured in the league.
If Van de Beek can’t get into a United side with too many midfielders, Gomes had even less chance.
That was certainly – and inexplicably – the case when Gomes was overlooked in favour of Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira time and again.
What could have been
Being overlooked for underperforming players was surely a key reason for Gomes’s departure.
So when you consider Van de Beek cannot get into a team already trying to fit Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba into one coherent unit, the youngster’s path was set.
In time, Van de Beek should be a regular starter at United. He certainly deserves it ahead of Pogba right now.
Yet there is a lot more in common between a £40million Dutch international and a 20-year-old wonder-kid than some may think.
One wonders if, in time, Gomes’s own price-tag goes far above Van de Beek’s. If so, United’s decision not to blood him from a young age will look all the more foolish.