Angel Gomes was tipped to be the next Manchester United academy graduate to hit the big time when he replaced Wayne Rooney from the bench in 2017 and became the youngest player to wear the famous red shirt since Duncan Edwards.
Yet Gomes’ contract at Old Trafford is due to expire on Tuesday without agreement being reached with the club, meaning he is free to go elsewhere.
Sportsmail has assessed why it hasn’t quite happened at United for the tiny, talented World Cup-winning midfielder, and what comes next…
Angel Gomes is on the cusp of leaving Manchester United, with his contract set to expire
He became the club’s youngest player since Duncan Edwards when he made his debut in 2017
So, why is Angel Gomes leaving United?
Good question. Though born and raised in London, Gomes joined United’s academy at 13 and became the club’s youngest player in 50 years when he debuted against Crystal Palace aged 16 years, 263 days.
But since then, he’s struggled to force his way into the side, making only three starts – all in the Europa League – with seven further appearances as substitute.
His size makes it harder for him on the wing – where he lacks blistering pace – or in central midfield.
His best position is No 10 so the arrival of Bruno Fernandes was a blow to his first-team prospects. And now his United deal has run down.
Gomes will struggle to find a first-team spot – especially after the arrival of Bruno Fernandes
Are United happy to see him leave?
Not at all. They see potential in Angel and offered a contract to keep him a while ago, reported to be £25,000-a-week, which isn’t bad for a teenager.
However it’s fair to say that on his rare first-team outings, he hasn’t made the immediate impact of a Brandon Williams, for example.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made it clear he can’t break the bank for Gomes. ‘Angel’s a top kid,’ says the United manager.
‘Of course there are people around him that advise him to do different things. If he doesn’t sign, all the best to Angel and I’m going to follow his career.’
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made it clear that United will not break the bank for the midfielder
So, is it just a money issue?
Not exclusively, though 19-year-old Gomes would definitely up his wages if he went to one of the interested parties – Chelsea.
His camp says the primary objective is getting regular games. If that is the case, he would be better off going to Benfica or Valencia rather than Stamford Bridge, where competition is as fierce as it is in Manchester.
The London element may also be a factor. Gomes was born in Edmonton, a few miles up the road from where David Beckham came from.
The prospect of returning to London would be one reason why a move to Chelsea would appeal
What would Gomes’ prospective suitors be getting?
There is no doubt Gomes is a class act. He can dribble, use his low centre of gravity to spin away from markers and is composed enough to spot a pass in tight situations.
‘He sees the game seconds before others,’ says former United forward Danny Webber, who watches a lot of the club’s senior, reserves and youth teams and likens his vision to Paul Scholes.
In 2017, he won the prestigious Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award given to the club’s outstanding academy player, joining a stellar list that also includes Ryan Giggs and Marcus Rashford.
Capped by England in several age groups, Gomes was the only United player in the Under 17s squad that won the World Cup. His last United appearance in January saw him replace Daniel James for the last 26 minutes.
He is a class act and won the Under 17 World Cup with England at the tournament in 2017
What would his prospects be like at Chelsea?
It’s hard to imagine Gomes’ finding it any easier to make his breakthrough at Stamford Bridge considering Frank Lampard will also have Mason Mount, Ross Barkley, Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi to choose from.
Lampard dismissed it in his press conference, commenting: ‘It has never been mentioned on my end’.
Despite that, if Chelsea double his money, that is one explanation for him to go. The Londoners are always likely to try and recoup the money by loaning him out for a fee.
The smart move may be to drop down a level to gain experience and then come back to a bigger club, a little like how Kevin De Bruyne resurrected his career at Wolfsburg having seen his prospects blocked as a youngster at Chelsea.
Gomes also picked up the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award in 2017
Is there anything else we need to know about Angel?
The Portuguese influence is still evident befitting someone whose full name is Adilson Angel Abreu de Almeida Gomes.
Former United and Portugal winger Nani is his godfather and his own Dad Gil acts as his representative, though super-agent Pini Zahavi is also reportedly involved with the prospective Chelsea move.
Gil won the Under 17s World Cup himself with Portugal.