As Everton fans walked away from Anfield on Sunday, there was only one thing they truly wanted to focus on.
While some were again fixated on their lack of luck in Merseyside derbies, the majority had something else to discuss. That was the performance of Andre Gomes.
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It is rare that an Everton side controls a game at Anfield. It’s even rarer that one of their players walks away as the unanimous man of the match; especially in a game they lost. That was exactly what Gomes did though.
To describe Gomes’ performance at Anfield as exemplary would not be doing it justice. The Portuguese midfielder was the best player on the pitch by some distance. There were times in this game where he controlled it with ease.
Spraying passes, dragging Everton forward and controlling the tempo it was the epitome of the complete midfield performance. It was the latest in a growing list of impressive displays in blue.
After arriving from Barcelona with an injury this summer, it has taken a little time for him to get up to speed but now he is flying at full pelt.
No player looks more suited to how Marco Silva wants this Everton side to play. That is saying something given how much Richarlison benefits from the Portuguese manager's style.
Unlike Richarlison, Gomes is vital to that style. Everton could not play the way Silva wants them to if they did not have him in the middle of the park. Everything they do well comes as a result of him.
He is now the heartbeat of this team. His performance at Anfield was the perfect case in point. Everton would not have performed the way they did if he had not been there, controlling the midfield.
The last midfielder the Blues had with this much quality was Mikel Arteta. Since he left for Arsenal in 2011 there has been a void in midfield that many transfer windows and many millions have failed to fill. Gomes has quickly established himself as the heir apparent to that vacant throne.
He often looked out of place at Barcelona. Many claimed he wasn’t good enough to play for them and often blamed him for their problems. It was hard to understand why the Catalans had paid such big money for him.
It seems the weight of expectation dragged him down at the Nou Camp. Perhaps it was a case of the pond being too big.
Goodison Park is not as intimidating or expectant, though. Silva, Marcel Brands and Evertonians were willing to give him time and a clean slate to write his own story. He’s repaid their faith and patience.
Even Liverpool fans were left impressed by his display, as those at Manchester United and Chelsea were earlier this season.
In fact, it would not be surprising if there are several big clubs around Europe watching his performances with interest. He’s already established himself among the best in the Premier League this season.
The trick for Everton is to try and keep him long-term. Unfortunately for them, they were unable to get a buy option inserted into his loan deal. Given his performances so far Barcelona are unlikely to be willing to sell for anything but a high price.
However, if anyone can convince them to sell it will be Brands. In a similar vein, if anyone can convince Gomes to sign long-term it will be the Dutchman.
In the meantime, Everton can be very pleased with the work they did in the summer. Signing Gomes has proven to be a masterstroke. His capture could go down as one of the best of the season.
The Portuguese midfielder is back to his best and now a key component of their team. The role he is playing in their continuing rise under Silva cannot be understated.
Another eye-catching display at Anfield showed he is likely to play an important role in determining how far the Blues reach this season. if he continues to shine as he is, that may be very high indeed.
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