Everton’s Portuguese midfielder André Gomes received widespread plaudits for his performance in The Toffees’ 1-0 victory over Arsenal on Sunday, and the showing from the Benfica man has only reignited speculation over his future.
Meanwhile, José Mourinho continues to keep his name in the headlines in various countries ahead of his next job, while transfer speculation surrounds Wolverhampton Wanderers’ young Portuguese players and Marco Matias steals the show in the English Championship.
Everton are one of the Premier League’s in-form teams, with their run of three consecutive league wins seeing Marco Silva’s men record impressive victories over Chelsea, West Ham and Arsenal. The convincing nature of the performances have taken the pressure off Portuguese manager Silva, who had previously been subjected to criticism for a below par campaign.
Central to Sunday’s win over Arsenal was the showing from Gomes in the Everton midfield. The Portugal international ran the furthest distance of any player in the Premier League last weekend, while his pass completion rate of 89.5% at Goodison Park was the highest of any player who completed the full 90 minutes. Gomes also produced a match high of 36 accurate passes in the opposition half, with his trademark bursts with the ball causing Arsenal problems throughout.
"I have much more to do"
Gomes is on-loan with Everton from Barcelona, where he struggled to adapt following a high-profile move from Valencia. The 25-year-old’s quality in an Everton shirt has led to calls from the club’s supporters for the deal to be made permanent, but Gomes himself has insisted that he believes he has work to do in order to fulfil his potential.
"I think I have much more to do and, honestly, much more to learn,” he said. "I am trying to train hard, enjoy it day by day and learn with the players and the staff.
"I want to be a top player for the next years.
"Marco Silva has been very good for me, but not just the manager, all of his coaching staff too. And if you have good teammates with high quality, too, you will learn much more, so I have to thank all of them. We have a lot of players who have got very good ability, especially on the ball. It is really good when all the players have the confidence to keep playing.
"There is a lot of high quality around me, so it is easier for me to play and create the space for them. We try to get the chemistry with players around us. So I enjoy it a lot playing with them. We are very happy with how we are playing at the moment."
José Mourinho has added fuel to speculation that he could take charge of German giants Bayern Munich by praising the quality of the Bundesliga. The Portuguese boss is looking for a new job ahead of next season, having left Manchester United in December after a little over two seasons at Old Trafford.
Bayern coach Niko Kovac is believed to be under pressure, despite leading the German top flight after hammering title rivals Borussia Dortmund 5-0 at the weekend. Mourinho’s name has been suggested as a possible candidate if Kovac vacates, and the former Porto boss took the opportunity to praise the state of football in Germany.
“The Bundesliga is a passionate league,” he said. “The midfield players are improving more and more and making the competition stronger. The stadiums are always full, there is a great organisation, good tactical approaches. The Bundesliga is very interesting.”
Transfer speculation over the future of Rúben Neves has accelerated in recent days, with Premier League leaders Liverpool touted as a prime destination for the Portuguese midfielder. Neves has been in impressive form this season for Wolverhampton Wanderers, leading to links with a host of clubs.
Juventus are thought to be admirers of the 22-year-old, but Liverpool have emerged as frontrunners after the Reds’ assistant manager Pep Lijnders admitted: “I know him very well, his ambition, his passion for the game, his professionalism. I know what he gives to the team and this type of player always interests us. I recognised him when I saw him at Wolves. I saw technique, professionalism. I saw the 2013-14 player I knew."
Meanwhile, Wolves’ young wing-back Rúben Vinagre is reportedly attracting interest from Spanish champions Barcelona. Vinagre, who turned 20 earlier this week, joined Nuno Espírito Santo’s side from Monaco in 2017, and according to O Jogo is being monitored closely by scouts from Camp Nou.
Pereira on Wolves connection
Neves and Vinagre would not just be missed by Nuno and Wolves supporters. Leicester City wing-back Ricardo Pereira has been talking about his relationship with the Portuguese
“I was with Adrien (Silva) every day, even outside the training and games,” Pereira said. "But there are the Portuguese from Wolverhampton who are close by and from time to time, we have dinner together.
"Rúben (Neves), Ivan (Cavaleiro), Moutinho, Jota, Rui (Patrício), are the ones I know best. Whenever we can we get together to do something.”
Former Porto man Pereira also had a word to say on life in England, especially compared to that he experienced in Portugal. "Here is quieter than in Portugal," he said.
"It is true that in Leicester you are recognised, but I can still walk, and it is only rare that I am approached by people. But from time to time, it's good to be approached and hear compliments to our work."
Former Vitória de Guimarães and Nacional winger Marco Matias scored twice on Tuesday night to help Sheffield Wednesday to a 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the English Championship. The goals were Matias’ 5th and 6th goals in the division this season, making it his most productive since joining The Owls in 2015.
Matias was a lively performer throughout, and could have had an assist with the game still goalless when he crossed for fellow Portuguese Lucas João, who saw his header saved. Matias broke the deadlock just after the restart, smashing a long range shot past Luke Steele after the Nottingham Forest goalkeeper had strayed away from his goal.
George Boyd made it two for Wednesday, with Lucas João this time the provider, heading a long ball into the Scotsman’s path. Matias made the game safe on 67 minutes with a simple finish, again after good work from Lucas João. The result means Wednesday retain an outside hope of the play-offs, with a gap of four points between them and the top six.
By Sean Gillen