When asked back in 2016 who he saw as a potential superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo picked three – Joao Mario, Renato Sanches and Andre Gomes.
The Juventus man knows all about the now 25-year-old having lined up alongside him for the majority of the new Everton signing’s 29 caps for Portugal and has seen enough to earmark him for the top.Gomes certainly has pedigree. Benfica’s Academy has a long history of producing top-quality talent, including the likes of former Blues loanee Manuel Fernandes, Portuguese great Rui Costa and current Manchester City duo Ederson and Bernardo Silva.
After gaining first-team experience in Portugal’s second division with Benfica B, Gomes stepped up successfully to the senior side in 2012, making his first-team debut against Freamunde in a Taça de Portugal tie in the October that year.
Later that month he started and scored in the Primeira Liga against Gil Vicente.
But it was the 2013-14 campaign that saw Gomes really flourish. By the end of that season he had played 23 times as Benfica recorded the first treble in their history and finished runners-up in the Europa League after losing on penalties to Sevilla.
An English Perspective
After transferring, initially on loan, to Spanish side Valencia, Gomes continued to establish himself as one of the leading young talents in Europe.
He joined a Los Che squad coached by current Wolves boss and countryman Nuno Espirito Santo but one failing to hit the heights of years gone by.
What he probably didn’t expect was to then find himself working under an Englishman. Yet in December 2015, Peter Lim – the Valencia owner who controls 50% of English non-league side Salford City – appointed fellow Salford shareholder Gary Neville as Santo’s replacement.
While Neville’s tenure may not have gone according to plan – he departed in March 2016 after four months in charge – Gomes did make his mark on the former Manchester United and Premier League stalwart.
“He strides forward and has a powerful physique, making him a similar player to Frank Lampard or Michael Ballack,” said the now Sky Sports pundit.
“He’s professional, he’s hungry to improve, an intelligent young man who speaks three languages. The day after the 7-0 loss in Barcelona, he insisted on doing extra training.”
Despite Valencia’s struggles, Gomes shone, and soon rumours of a move began to surface.
Gomes was one of a number of signings made by the Spanish powerhouses in the summer of 2016 with an emphasis on youth – alongside 22-year-olds Samuel Umtiti and Denis Suarez, plus Lucas Digne, another to have swapped Catalonia for Merseyside this summer.
His competitive debut saw him involved in two goals in Barcelona’s 3-0 Super Cup win over Sevilla.
Gomes played 47 times for the Catalans in his first season, going on to play in the Champions League and lift the Copa del Rey.
He found regular game time harder to come by after the appointment of Ernesto Valverde yet still managed to help Barcelona retain the Copa del Rey and add their 25th La Liga title.
The rise of Gomes did not go unnoticed by those within the international set-up in Portugal.
Having already represented his country at Under-17 and Under-18 level, he was selected for the Under-19 European Championship in Estonia back in 2012, aged 18.
Eight months later he was already being called up to the senior squad for a friendly against Ecuador. He did not feature, however.
Aged 21, he was handed his senior debut in a Euro 2016 qualifier against Albania, going on to help Portugal qualify for the tournament in France. Named in the 23-man squad for the finals, Gomes was an unused substitute as they beat hosts France at the Stade de France.
Gomes was also a key player as Portugal Under-21s negotiated a group including Brazil, Mexico, Belgium and Nigeria to finish fourth in the 2013 Toulon Tournament.
Currently on 29 caps, he looks set to play an integral part for Portugal, especially under coach Fernando Santos. "I have a great respect for André Gomes,” he said in May 2018 despite leaving him out of the squad for the Russia World Cup. “I do not care much about clubs, I look at what the players can give me."
While Gomes may have drawn criticism from certain corners while at Barcelona, those within the game know just what he is capable of.
It was Spain great Luis Enrique who was in charge at the Nou Camp when the Portugal midfielder arrived in 2016. He was soon won over by the ability he saw within his young charge and regularly highlighted the quality Gomes possesses.
“Andre has humongous potential," said Enrique in one such passionate defence. "I can and will say that 1000 times over. He can play in different positions and he's only using 30 per cent of his capacity. Imagine him at 100 per cent.
“He's very demanding, very responsible and he has quality."
Andres Iniesta too was similarly won over. “It's a great signing,” said the Barcelona legend soon after Gomes was brought to the club. “He fits in very well because he helps us to get on with our way of doing things. He has very good qualities and was one of the sensations of the League in recent years, so it's a great signing."
So while last season perhaps wasn’t the one Gomes had hoped for – with just seven starts in 25 appearances - he now has the chance to fulfil that potential at Everton.