Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho seldom has any regrets regarding his decision making but if reports from The sun are true that United’s priced possession and youngest ever player to make a club debut since Duncan Edwards Angel Gomes is stalling his first professional contract amid interest from Barcelona then the Portuguese is in for a squeaker.
The diminutive English sensation is tipped to be a world beater in years to come and is arguably the hottest prospect with a string of clubs rumored to be monitoring his situation at the club. Otherwise rumored to be a distant cousin or a family friend to former United winger Luis Nani, the youngster has enjoyed a swift rise through the clubs ranks making appearances for the U16s, U17s and U18s scoring 12 times in 19 starts, becoming the youngest ever recipient of the club’s Jimmy Murphy Youth Team Player award in the process.
In fact, the juvenile recently inspired Manchester United to a remarkable comeback win over Arsenal for the U18s.
Gomes, who joined the Academy as a 6-year-old was to sign his first professional contract at United when he turned 17, something he is yet to do and Mourinho should be wary of the situation considering the last time United were in this position, it cost them €100 million.
Of course, Mourinho has been taunted over the letting Juan Mata, David Luiz, Mo Salah, Filipe Luis, Juan Cuadrado and famously Kevin De Bruyne who was allowed to leave for the Bundesliga for €22 million only to sign for bitter rivals Manchester City a year later for €74 million, a player who constantly accused the Portuguese of “not believing in him” at the Stamford Bridge.
The United boss’ record for promoting young players to a professional level has consistently been questioned in the press throughout his managerial career despite playing 19-year-old Marcus Rashford over 40 times and handing debuts to Axel Tuanzebe, Tim Fosu-Mensah, Joel Pereira, Scott McTominay, Demetri Mitchell and Josh Harrop since he took over from Louis Van Gaal in the summer of 2016.
Still, it doesn’t help that some of the youth players under him hold him in such low regard as far as first team promotion and chances are concerned. Jese Rodriguez, who is on loan at Stoke City from Paris Saint-German, a La Fabrica graduate at the Spanish capital, maintains that the Portuguese tactician had little to do with youth team players during his tenure at Real Madrid when he was coming through the ranks.
“We talked very little, Mourinho was a person closer to certain players, not so much with the youth. He joked from time to time, but it was more (assistant coach) Karanka who was closer (to the youth players) and took over more work. I still say that Mourinho is a great coach but at that time there was no such sympathy or coach-player proximity to let me know his reasoning… I never regretted that, it was what I felt.” He told Marca during an interview in March earlier this year.
However, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then, comparing Mourinho’s use of young players in the Premiere league as United manager to other managers in the division is utter hogwash since the former has undisputedly put in the most faith on youngsters.
Last season, in Rashford and Fosu-Mensah[timothy] he [Mourinho] gave a total of 1445 premiere league minutes to young talent – more than double of other managers in the English top flight – a figure that backs his defense to have given 49 youngsters their break in his time.
In comparison, youngsters including Kelechi Iheanacho, Gabriel Jesus and Aleix Garcia only managed 414 minutes under Pep Guardiola at the Etihad in the premiere league. At Anfield, Jurgen Klopp gifted Ben Woodburn, Ovie Ejara and Trent Alexander-Arnold a combined 242 minutes of League action, which is far better than what Antonio Conte did in charge of Chelsea – needless to say no teenager featured for the blues.
Even though Mourinho and United will not be needing the immediate services of the attacking midfielder, the club’s hierarchy can’t afford to lose Gomes, a player whose creativity, composure and dribbling is unrivalled amongst his peers, a future Paul Scholes who can dictate a game with precision and intelligence.
It may be too early to be hitting the panic button since the teenager eligible to play for England, Portugal and Angola at an international level has a year left in his scholar contract at youth level but it goes without saying that if left to leave, Angel Gomes will, surely, be Mourinho’s greatest ever atrocity in football.