Angel Gomes’ time at Manchester United expired after his contract expired earlier this week.
United confirmed the departure of the small midfielder on Wednesday, with the understanding of MEN that Gomes was not convinced by his first team prospects at Old Trafford.
It is not clear at this stage where his next destination will be, although clubs from Spain, Germany, France and Portugal have expressed interest. Chelsea have been linked, but Frank Lampard has said that England’s youth have never been mentioned in his recruitment discussions.
Although Gomes has only made a handful of first-team appearances, his departure is a serious blow to United. Although not a regular on the first team, the 19-year-old is a multifaceted striker with enormous potential and, if he stayed and failed to reach United rank, it is still likely that he would have attracted a decent transfer fee on any sale.
A positive aspect of Gomes’ departure is the potential opening of the team for the young Hannibal Mejbri.
The 17-year-old joined Munich last summer and drew many compliments for his youthful shows. Many United fans believe it is the perfect replacement for the outgoing Gomes, and it’s easy to see why many are comparing.
Like Gomes, Mejbri is a right-wing attacker who often operates between the center of the field and the left flank (an area of the field called half-space).
He is a great technical player who has a brilliant spatial awareness, finding spaces between the lines to collect possession before quickly connecting with the teammates around him or dribbling towards the penalty area. Both his rapid turnaround and his impressive ball-carrying skills are two of his most promising assets.
Given his lack of football in the first team, we only have a data sample of just over 1000 minutes from various youth-level competitions this season. From these figures, the Frenchman averaged 6.5 per 90 dribbles with an impressive success rate of 63.2 per cent.
Comparatively, we have a sample size of just under 1000 minutes for Gomes this season in various competitions and has an average of 4.27 dribbles per 90 minutes with a similar success rate of 66.7 percent.
On the surface, this highlights Mejbri as the most competent dribbler, although in reality Gomes made several appearances in the first team, which means that he faced a much stiffer competition, so comparing the two in this regard does not give us a precise reflection. However, Gomes is a couple of years ahead on the development path and Mejbri’s numbers are impressive for his age.
Gomes is the player most focused on the goal of the two, which is why we will often see him used higher on the field, almost like a false nine. He also has a better goal record than Mejbri and makes more shots on average.
However, playing more in an offensive midfield role, Mejbri is an excellent facilitator for those around him. Second Wyscout, so far he has recorded six assists this season, testifying to both his vision and decision making within the third final. We can see an example of this in the graphics below taken from an Under 23 game against reading last December.
Here, Mejbri takes the ball and models himself as if he were about to make a pass to a teammate on his right. The circled opposition player is ready to go up and intercept the early pass.
Mejbri, however, makes the dummy at the passage and instead moves away and starts driving in the middle of Reading.
His pace is too much for another opposition player who tries to pull him down for punishment. The seventeen year old shows good strength and does not go down.
Mejbri leads the ball to the third attacker, attempting another defender to try and close it and opening up space for his teammate to the right in the process.
Mejbri then plays an excellent pass without looking into the feet of Dillon Hoogewerf, who takes a touch before finding the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Hopefully the above explanation is a great insight into what Mejbri is capable of bringing to United. However, although it has a very high ceiling, it is important not to get carried away too much and to remain patient as it continues to develop.
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If Mejbri’s potential coincides with his current expected career path, then United will have a player in hand. Eventually he could embark on the career at Old Trafford that many once expected Gomes would have.