Before the start of the season, Liverpool’s manager Jurgen Klopp said he was happy with his midfield. However, after six matches in the Premier League and two in the Champions League, it is safe to say that view must have changed. The Reds are currently eighth in the league, winning two, drawing three and losing one match. In the Champions League, they were on the end of a Khvicha Kvaratskhelia masterclass against Napoli before narrowly winning against Ajax. Many have pointed toward the injuries in midfield as the reason for the team’s lacklustre performance. It is why Flamengo’s Joao Gomes is now on their transfer list.
The 21-year-old has already racked up more than 100 appearances for the club, which shows his immense talent. Joao Gomes is the latest diamond to come out of the Brazilian league. Furthermore, he has also expressed his love for Liverpool. Speaking to the media, Joao Gomes said, “Liverpool are a team I’d play for. I have the greatest desire to play. Playing in the Champions League is my biggest dream and that of my family, my biggest dream in football”.
So, who is Joao Gomes, and how good is he?
How good is Joao Gomes?
Joao Victor Gomes da Silva was born on February 12, 2001, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At eight, he joined Flamengo’s youth academy. And the association still stands today after 13 years. Even at such an early age, Gomes showed immense talent. This is the reason he made his way swiftly through several youth levels.
And he was finally awarded for his hard work with a senior-team call-up in the 2020 season. He was first named on the bench for Flamengo’s clash against RB Bragantino on October 16, 2020. His debut would come 16 days later in a 4-1 loss to Sau Paulo. He would make 14 appearances for the senior team that season helping the club win the Brazilian Serie A, Campeonato Carioca, Supercopa do Brasil, and Recopa Sudamericana.
Flamengo midfielder Joao Gomes tells ESPN on Liverpool scouting him: “Liverpool are a team I’d play for. I have the greatest desire to play”. 🔴🇧🇷 #LFC
“Playing in the Champions League is my biggest dream in football”, Joao added. pic.twitter.com/uhTWROzdBK
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 19, 2022
The following season his role would considerably rise as he made 19 appearances in the league. In addition, he also represented his club in the Carioca – Taça Guanabara, an annual competition in Rio de Janeiro. Flamengo would win the Campeonato Carioca and Supercopa do Brasil.
He has been so good in the current season that he has kept a certain Arturo Vidal on the bench. What makes Gomes unique is that he is multi-faceted. He is brilliant at snuffing out opposition while also excelling at passing and moving the play forward.
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Joao Gomes stats
Joao Gomes has played over 100 games for a top club like Flamengo, which shows his quality. And he has the stats to back it up. Let’s begin with his passing. According to Sofascore, he makes 87 per cent accurate passes, good enough for his age and position. An interesting thing to note is that his passing is more accurate in the opposition half (17.9) than his half (10.6).
However, it is his defensive duties where Joao Gomes proves his immense talent. According to FotMob, the defensive midfielder has made 2.9 tackles per 90 minutes in the current Brazilian league season, the best of any player. Moreover, tackling is his favourite method to stop the attack compared to intercepting (0.7) and clearances (0.8).
In fact, looking at stats, his game looks quite similar to Fabinho at Liverpool. Both rank almost the same in terms of interceptions, possession won, dribbles past per game, and clearances per game.
Aproveitamento do João Gomes em algumas stats. pic.twitter.com/Eb3vUWi9Mf
— DataFla (@DataFlafut) May 5, 2022
Joao Gomes scout report
Joao Gomes is undoubtedly the best defensive midfielder to come out of the league after Fabinho and Casemiro. The 21-year-old has a high ceiling and is a perfect mix of attack and defence like Joshua Kimmich of Bayern Munich. The midfielder also is brilliant at covering lots of ground.
Under Paulo Sousa, Flamengo played a system that encouraged counter press when losing the ball. This demands players who can run for large parts of the game, which Gomes is an expert at. Moreover, under Sousa, the centre-backs and the defensive midfielder had an essential role in the build-up.
So, Flamengo’s goalkeeper started the play by passing the ball to one of the two centre-backs. Then the two defenders, along with the full-backs and defensive midfielder (Gomes in this case), would pass the ball in between them to get the opposition to break their shape and come to win the ball. But, of course, when this happens, you need players who are experts at making passes under pressure, and Gomes did that brilliantly.
So, Gomes’ natural talent has been further refined by a system that is built to his strength.
João Gomes no Brasileirão
Stats por jogo pic.twitter.com/ZsuMioA5j2
— DataFla (@DataFlafut) May 9, 2022
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Joao Gomes transfer news
Liverpool have been said to be the club who are the front runner for the talented Brazilian. The Reds have struggled since the start of the 2022-23 season. While they signed Arthur Melo on loan on the deadline day, the Juventus midfielder does not fit in Klopp’s Gegenpressing system.
Fabinho missed the initial matches due to injury, and it hurt Liverpool. Klopp was undoubtedly missing a steel player in the midfield, which Gomes brings in spades. Liverpool also have an aged midfield which might be affecting them. Jordan Henderson is 32, Fabinho is 28, James Milner is 36, and Thiago is 31. It was reported that Klopp wanted to revamp the midfield next season. However, considering his team’s performances, Klopp might be tempted to add a player or two in January.
Liverpool are not the only club in the race. Manchester United were also reported to be in the race for the midfielder. Reports in the Brazilian media have stated that even Real Madrid and AC Milan are also said to be in the race.
However, one thing is sure any club signing him can be assured of having a top player who could go on to be as successful as several other players from the nation of Samba football.