Former Everton loan star Manuel Fernandes says the Club has a golden asset in fellow Portuguese midfielder Andre Gomes.
Gomes returned to USM Finch Farm this month to continue his recuperation from the leg injury he sustained playing against Tottenham Hotspur back in November.
The 26-year-old completed a permanent move to Goodison Park last summer after making 29 appearances on loan from Barcelona in 2018/19.
Fernandes has shared a Portugal dressing room with Gomes and the pair started together in a match against Holland shortly before the current Everton man originally switched to Goodison.
“Andre is a very talented player and, yes, there are a lot of talented players in the world, but you won’t find many like him who have had Barcelona and Real Madrid fighting over them,” Fernandes told evertonfc.com.
“His focus right now will be on getting fit, then his confidence will grow with playing again and he will be a very big asset for Everton.
“The injury will not stop him reaching his full potential and I think he can do that at Everton.
“He is very strong with the ball, plays really well with both feet, can shoot with both feet.
“In England he will improve physically, strength is not an issue for him but Premier League football naturally toughens you. You play a lot of games and have to be physically fit.
“With his talent and being fit, he can excel for Everton, I have no doubt about it.
“It is a mental challenge to overcome a big injury and I think he will do that.
“When he puts it behind him, Everton has some gold in Andre.”
Gomes and Fernandes both started at Benfica and count Spanish club Valencia among their former employers.
Fernandes scored twice for Everton in his original spell on loan from Portugal in 2006/07 and came back for five months the following season.
He left Valencia for Besiktas in Turkey in January 2011, while Gomes, seven years Fernandes’s junior, joined Barcelona from their La Liga rivals in 2016.
Gomes, who suffered a fracture dislocation of his right ankle in the Goodison meeting with Spurs three months ago, played 78 matches for the five-times European champions.
The 29-cap international and 2016 European Championship winner, who made nine appearances this term before injury hit, spoke publicly during his time at the Nou Camp about experiencing a mental low following a dip in form.
And Fernandes says Gomes’s candour is indicative of the substance his compatriot marries to a formidable talent.
“You have to have a lot of character and confidence in yourself to be that open,” said Fernandes.
“I wouldn’t have had the guts to do it.
“There will be competition for him at Everton and people will be demanding a lot from him.
“But if he has the time, I believe he can excel.
“I am not saying this wishfully, I believe it.
“He has the ability to do it.
“There is no arguing about his talent.
“He is a very good footballer and character and, once he is recovered, can show why he is a player who only a few years ago was wanted by Barcelona and Real Madrid.”