Everton by all accounts are very close to making Andre Gomes loan deal from Barcelona permanent, for a sum of about £22 million being reported along with performance-related add-ons that could take it up to £27m.
However, the club have been criticized from some quarters for shelling out that sum of money for very little statistical output - basically, one goal and one assist in 27 games, with just 1 shot and 0.3 key passes per 90 min played. For perspective, that key passes stat puts him behind every single player in the Toffees squad except Kurt Zouma, Jordan Pickford, James McCarthy and Mason Holgate.
The argument between stats and the eye-test is one that has gone on for ages, and will continue to roil the waters of competitive sport for decades after we’re gone.
Sure, the Portuguese midfielder does not contribute much offensively on the pitch, as proven by the underlying numbers. However, he does add a stability and fluency to the middle of the park that we have not seen since Morgan Schneiderlin was at his peak.
In Marco Silva’s double midfield pivot system, Gomes’ main job is to clean up after Idrissa Gueye has gone in and won the ball, and then distribute it further forward. He regularly leads the club in passing stats, which is basically his job. However, should he be doing more further upfield, creating more chances and scoring more goals?
It can also be argued that Gomes would not be needed to provide offensively if the Blues had a proven striker to come up with goals.
In an article in the Times today, Merseyside football correspondent Paul Joyce takes the 25-year-old to task, describing his lone goal against Wolves and saying that more is expected of him.
It was a snapshot of everything the modern-day midfielder should do.
The only disappointment was that Everton did not see more of that from Gomes last season.
However, true value will only come to fruition if the Portuguese international steps up and finds another gear, influences matches on a regular basis and flourishes under the responsibility he will be handed.
It is difficult to say whether Gomes not stepping up was a function of his own inabilities or whether Marco Silva’s system demanded he stay put while Gylfi Sigurdsson was charged with ghosting into the box late.
There are extenuating circumstances to Gomes’ play however, including a late start to the season after a deadline day move meant he wasn’t ready to play for a few weeks. Then there was the midseason slump that affected most of the team as they were worn down with the games coming thick and fast in winter and Silva having a paucity of capable backups.
Joyce goes on to acknowledge that a high offensive output has never been part of Gomes’ repertoire, with the player not having exceeded five goals in any season he’s played.
Throughout his career with Benfica, Valencia and Barcelona, he has never been a prolific goalscorer with his best return five in 41 appearances in 2015-16 for Valencia. It is an area ripe for improvement.
He also adds that his workrate has never been in doubt, but that the Blues should expect more from the player going forward.
Only six players who had played at least 500 minutes in the Premier League last season covered more ground than Gomes who, on average, ran 12.26 kilometres per 90 minutes.
(Joyce doesn’t add who the six are, but Sigurdsson is likely to be in the same range as well as Gueye)
In his second season at the Toffees, with familiar faces surrounding him in a system that he is comfortable enough in that he insisted to Barca that he was only coming back to Goodison Park, Gomes will be looking to up the ante and the Blues will be backing him all the way.