Everton

Quietly commanding Gomes fast becoming Everton favourite

 • by Callum Rice-Coates
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André Gomes is quickly impressing Everton fans. When he arrived on loan from Barcelona, he was carrying an injury and had gone without a pre-season.

The circumstances were not ideal.

His reputation had been damaged, too, by a disappointing season in La Liga. He was unwanted at Barça, where he had admitted the constant criticism had been difficult to take, and sent out on loan, in an attempt to regain the form that earned him a move to Catalonia.

Now, though, he is beginning to show why the Catalan giants initially signed him from Valencia, and why Everton chose to bring him in at such a difficult time in his career. He is, at his best, an elegant footballer, capable of controlling games from midfield.

Gomes, since his return from injury, has started in each of Everton’s last five Premier League games. And he has gradually grown more assured, more confident on the ball. Against Cardiff, on Saturday, he was the standout performer, catching the eye in a game of relatively little quality.

He offers a level of composure and deftness on the ball that Everton do not have in their other midfielders. Gomes’ stats, despite his lack of appearances so far, make clear the impact he has had. He has made an average of 47.85 accurate passes per 90 minutes, bettered only by Morgan Schneiderlin. That amounts to a pass completion rate of 87.3 per cent.

Gomes is also demonstrating his ability to drive forward with the ball from deep. He is not always content to play a simple pass to a teammate. On occasion, he attempts to do the more extravagant. The result is an average of 1.83 successful take-ons per 90 minutes. Only Bernard, the diminutive Brazilian winger, can boast a better record.

There is an indication, too, that Gomes feels more comfortable trying things at Everton. The pressure at the Nou Camp appeared to overwhelm him. This season, 32.3 per cent of his passes have gone forward, compared with 23.6 per cent last year. And he is attempting longer, more ambitious passes: 4.88 long balls per game compared with 2 last season.

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“On Saturday afternoon he performed really well and his team-mates helped him as well because his first moments in the club were not easy,” Marco Silva said of Gomes following the Cardiff win. “His team-mates and the technical staff help him settle fast and feel an important person in our dressing room, even when he was not playing, even when he was not training.

“Now he is playing well, working hard and everything you would expect of someone with his quality.”

For Gomes, the hope will be that his rich vein of form continues. If it does, his underwhelming spell at Barcelona will be quickly forgotten.

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