Having spent the summer pursuing Marc Cucurella (£5.0m), Manchester City were unwilling to meet the transfer fee that Chelsea happily paid and moved on to other full-back targets.
They settled for another graduate of Barcelona’s La Masia academy in Sergio Gomez, spending around £11m to secure him from Belgian giants Anderlecht.
Priced at £4.5m by the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game, there will be keen interest in seeing how long it will take for Kyle Walker‘s (£5.1m) – or even Joao Cancelo‘s (£7.1m) – place to be under threat.
So will he be more than a developmental talent at the champions and what impact will he have in FPL?
We’ll attempt to answer those questions below.
At 17, Gomez decided to leave Barcelona and go abroad, with the excellent talent spotters at Borussia Dortmund seeing a lot of potential in the then-attacking midfielder.
|2021/22||Anderlecht||Belgian First Division||39 (0)||6||12|
|2020/21||Huesca (loan)||La Liga||4 (25)||0||1|
|2019/20||Huesca (loan)||Segunda Division||19 (17)||1||3|
|2018/19||Borussia Dortmund II||Regionalliga West||14 (0)||2||3|
|2017/18||Borussia Dortmund||Bundesliga||0 (2)||0||0|
After a year playing for their reserve team in the Regionalliga West, his progression continued with two campaigns on loan at Huesca.
The second was frustrating for Gomez, being mostly restricted to substitute appearances after their return to the Spanish top flight. Just one goal and four assists came during his time there.
Yet Anderlecht head coach and Man City legend Vincent Kompany saw enough to sign Gomez permanently, for a low fee, and immediately convert him into a left-back.
Funnily enough, this is when the attacking returns began to stack up for him, as six goals and 12 assists led to him being named the club’s Player of the Season.
“He called me and said I could do very well in that position. To be honest I was a little bit surprised. I didn’t expect it, but he seemed very sure about the decision and that gave me confidence. I will always be thankful to Vincent for the opportunity. I’m still playing as a left-back and I really enjoy it.” – Sergio Gomez on Vincent Kompany
Simultaneously, he is bringing in impressive numbers for the Spanish under-21s by scoring six times in his last six outings.
Soon to be 22, Gomez has plenty of time to improve on any defensive deficiencies, having grown up not needing to hone that skill set too much. His WhoScored? profile shows a left-back with good technique but a height of just 5ft 7in that makes aerial duels difficult.
SofaScore confirms that he tends to be an overlapping full-back who likes to attack the byline and cross.
When attacking, Guardiola will occasionally ask Walker and Joao Cancelo (£7.1m) to progress into central midfield whilst a combination of Jack Grealish (£7.0m), Riyad Mahrez (£7.9m) and Phil Foden (£8.0m) stay very wide. This was a feature of the 2-3-5 set-up in Gameweek 1.
On other occasions, as in Gameweek 2, only Walker ‘inverts’ into central midfield, with Cancelo pushing wider and higher. The width of that full-back, Cancelo in this case, means that whoever is playing on the left wing can then position themselves more centrally and closer to goal. Gomez would seem to be more of this Benjamin Mendy type of left-back.
It’s a tactical flexibility that the head coach values greatly.
“He was a number ten, like [Oleksandr] Zinchenko, now he’s adapted in that position. When that happens, [Johan] Cruyff told me all the time that when a winger can play at left-back they will be the best left-back. When a holding midfielder can play as a central defender, they will be the best central defender.” – Pep Guardiola
Gomez was on a big share of set plays for Anderlecht last season, which boosted his minutes-per-chance-created average to a very healthy 51. By way of comparison, that’s what the attack-minded Marcos Alonso averaged at Chelsea.
An extra skill of Gomez is that he can take penalties: he scored four from four from the spot last season. Try taking them away from Erling Haaland (£11.7m), of course…
WHERE GOMEZ FITS IN AT MANCHESTER CITY
Initially, it seemed that Man City’s plan was to immediately send Gomez to Girona – another club in the City Football Group network.
However, with time running out after the failed Cucurella pursuit, Guardiola has already confirmed that Gomez will remain at Man City to compete in the first-team squad.
“He’s for now, he will stay with us, the squad, alongside Joao [Cancelo], Josh [Wilson-Esbrand] and him for the left-backs.” – Pep Guardiola
Those initial loan plans suggest that the youngster isn’t ready to start immediately, will be eased into proceedings and won’t therefore affect Cancelo or Walker’s short-term game time, although ‘Pep Roulette’ should make a comeback once European football returns.
As for Cancelo, he largely avoided any rotation last season and his versatility means he can switch flanks. Amongst outfielders, his 3,227 minutes were far ahead of second-placed Rodri (£6.0m), making 36 league starts.
He also seemingly has better powers of physical recovery than Walker, who would appear to be the likelier of the two senior full-backs to drop out when the schedule ramps up and rotation kicks in:
“He’s a guy whose physicality is incredible, he could play again the day after a game and this is so important us to have players consistently fit.” – Pep Guardiola on Joao Cancelo
IS GOMEZ WORTH BUYING IN FPL?
Unless there is a big injury to Cancelo or Walker once the summer transfer window has closed, there is no reason to consider Gomez at this juncture.
The brilliant Legomane has showcased the intense schedule facing Man City above. From Gameweek 4, every midweek until the international break will see them play competitive football and this continues until the World Cup in November.
Gomez will likely be fast-tracked into one or two appearances but, again, it’s not enough to justify an FPL purchase despite the low £4.5m price. His main initial impact on FPL, then, will likely be the odd rest Guardiola can now hand Walker in particular.