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Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is the right man to help Barcelona misfit Andre Gomes rediscover his touch

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is the right man to help Barcelona misfit Andre Gomes rediscover his touch

With good man management, the Portuguese midfielder's career-best Valencia form can be unearthed

THE January transfer window has been open a little over a week and there has already been plenty of movement.

Ross Barkley has joined Chelsea, Virgil van Dijk secured his long-awaited move to Liverpool the second the New Year rang in and Barcelona at last wrapped up the signing of Philippe Coutinho. With over three weeks still to run before the market closes, plenty more deals are expected to be wrapped up before deadline day.

The most interesting so far though comes in Chelsea’s capture of Barkley. The 24-year-old turned down a move to the Blues last summer and with Tottenham heavily linked, it seemed the main reason was due to Barkley favouring a move to the north London side. When it became apparent that Spurs were out of the race to secure the Englishman’s services, however, Chelsea were handed a clear run at Barkley and duly capitalised to sign the attacker for £15m, a bargain buy in today’s market.

One of the main issues now is where does this leave Spurs? Mauricio Pochettino was believed to be a huge fan of Barkley’s, and a move this month seemed likely, but to miss out on the England international suggests one of two scenarios. The first is Pochettino is happy with his current midfield options, even allowing for Mousa Dembele’s injury issues. Yet, it could well be that the Spurs boss has other options lined up this month and following Coutinho’s move to Barcelona, Pochettino could return to Spain to bolster his squad.

Andre Gomes was heavily linked with a move to the north London side on deadline day last summer, only for the Portugal international to turn down the chance to move to England and instead stay in Spain. Paulinho’s good form has seen Gomes register just 259 minutes of La Liga action this season, while Coutinho’s subsequent arrival means that number is unlikely to rise once the new signing returns to full fitness. For the good of his career, and with the World Cup approaching, it would be in the midfielder’s best interest to depart for pastures new.

When Real and Barca targeted Gomes in 2016, the midfielder had enjoyed back-to-back impressive campaigns with Valencia and a successful Euro 2016 with Portugal. His move to Barcelona, though, was viewed as the wrong one for the player and the initial fears by many proved right. Gomes struggled for game time and consistency in the high-pressure environment and it’s no surprise his form stuttered.

That being said, there is a top performing player to coax out and in new surroundings, Gomes could begin to regain the form shown during his two years at Valencia prior to his switch to Barcelona. He has the skill set to succeed in the current Spurs setup, either in the midfield two in a 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-2-1 formation or in a more advanced role behind the striker. Rather than look into his indifferent form with Barcelona, it would be fairer on the player to focus on his Valencia performances, where he really shot to prominence in Spain.

During his two seasons with Los Che, only Ever Banega (98) completed more dribbles than Gomes (96) of central midfielders in La Liga. Returns of seven goals and four assists, while leaving room for improvement, were respectable returns considering his two campaigns came during a tumultuous period for Valencia, where they failed to meet expectations by finishing fourth, then 12th. The latter campaign is best remembered for Gary Neville’s short-lived reign as manager, yet was also one that helped thrust Gomes into the spotlight.

With the right man management, Gomes has the means to rediscover his best form from his Valencia days and Pochettino is perhaps the ideal manager to help coax out any untapped potential. A Dembele successor in the midfield third is one of Pochettino’s priorities and a player to drive opponents back in the middle of the park is required to ensure a smooth transition for when the Belgian is fazed out of the squad.

Geoffrey Kondogbia is a rumoured target for Spurs, but a cost effective option would be Gomes, with his underwhelming displays in a Barcelona shirt seeing his value drop considerably. He hasn’t became a bad player overnight, with a huge dip in confidence affecting his midfield performances. Gomes still has the attacking means to break down defences with ease and just needs to right manager to rekindle his career, with Pochettino the ideal boss to help bring out the best in the Portuguese ace once more.





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Ben McAleer
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