Amongst what was considered a fairly quiet transfer window, with the arrival of Riyad Mahrez seemingly the only noteworthy signing to the majority of football fans. However, The arrival of an 18-year-old defensive midfielder from across the channel caught the eye of city fans, anoraks of the football world as well as football manager addicts alike. This player analysis asks ‘who is Claudio Gomes?‘, analyses him as a player and also questions what his future is at Man City?
Born into a footballing family in suburbs just outside the French capital, the son of ex Bissau-Guinean footballer Amarildo Gomes also has two younger siblings developing their trade at French Clubs Le Havre and Evreux alike.
Claudio spent time at a variety of different clubs throughout his youth before arriving at PSG in 2013. He spent the next 5 years moving through the ranks at the French giants winning French youth division titles along the way gaining a reputation as a tireless defensive midfielder with great technical ability and positional intelligence.
His performances through the PSG youth sides were being recognized by scouts and coaches across Europe, as well as the French national youth sides. Gomes has been called up to represent Les Blues throughout his development and had the privilege of captaining the U17’s sides during their European and world championships alike.
With his contract at PSG coming to an end in August 2018, all of Europe’s top sides were circling the player, with the opportunity of signing one of the hottest prospects in football on a free too much to handle. The impeccable recourses and facilities to develop under at the City Academy, as well as the opportunity to work under Pep, was enough to persuade Claudio to choose the premier league champions.
Comparison with Kante
Claudio has often been compared to Ngolo Kante. Whilst I believe it is unfair for both players to compare an 18-year-old, who has barely been able to make his own mark in the game, to an individual who has revolutionized their position and achieved so much, the similarities are clear and the comparison was always likely to be made. Both second-generation West African migrants, the pair were both born in the north-west of Paris around 10 kilometres apart, but their birthplace and origins of the pair are not where the similarities end.
Other than a clear difference in height as Claudio stands around half a foot taller than Ngolo, the two share similar physical and technical attributes. Both players have been recognized for their impressive ability to cover vast amounts of ground and quality defensive positional intelligence, elements of their game which allows them to stand out as effective defensive midfielders, along with quality ball control and passing.
What can we expect from Claudio at City?
As I have said, it would be extremely unfair to continuously compare an 18-year-old, still growing as a person and a footballer to a player who has dominated his role in world football for his era. To expect Claudio to reach Ngolo’s level or replicate achievements in the game wouldn’t be fair to either player.
Every year countless young men are identified as being the next best players in world football far too early. With the pressure being too much for most, and never able to meet anything near their potential.
Claudio does have the potential to be a world class defensive midfielder and an important player in the City’s future, with Fernandinho growing older and no obvious long-term replacement at the club, there is an obvious role for Claudio to fill in the future. There is no way of knowing whether the young Parisian will come close to reaching the heights he is capable of or falling under the pressure like countless others. However, to give Claudio the best platform to reach his full potential, he needs to be given the time and space to enjoy his football as well as the freedom to be creative in his performances.
Claudio Gomes wasn’t able to make an impact in the two seconds he played against Chelsea during the Community Shield, however, he has impressed in his early performances with City’s U23’s. Despite Pep being highly impressed with the youngsters start at City, describing him in typical Pep fashion as “so good, so good”, I wouldn’t expect to see too much of him at the Etihad in the near future. Although, keep a close eye on the young Frenchman’s development, as the brilliance of Fernandinho cannot last forever and Claudio could be the man to step in and be an important player in City’s future.
For now, City fans will be kept waiting to see if Gomes can make a long term impact at the Etihad. Instead of taking the option to keep the youngster at the club, this promising defensive midfielder has been loaned out to PSV Eindhoven for the whole of the 2019/20 campaign. Rather than joining up with the main Eredivisie squad, Gomes has gone straight into the Jong PSV side – an equivalent of Manchester City’s Under 23s but arguably not as competitive. The 19 year old has enjoyed plenty of game time with the Dutch giants in the early weeks of the new season but will he be able to press the first team squad before he returns to the UK?
Back in the ranks of Manchester City’s first team squad, some positive results are starting to compensate for a shaky opening to 2019/20. When Liverpool dropped their first points of the campaign, City closed the gap to six and many are forecasting that the Reds’ lack of experience in closing out the title will play into their rivals’ hands.
It’s now clear that Claudio Gomes will play no part in Manchester City’s domestic campaign and that seems a great shame. The potential to play in the EFL Cup has gone for another season and it’s debatable whether a spell in PSV’s reserves is going to help his progress. Ideally, the teenager needed first team football, even at Championship level so does this represent a missed opportunity on behalf of the club and player or does Claudio Gomes still have time to progress?