Manchester United have been linked with Portugal midfielder André Gomes quite a lot lately, with his supposed Frank Lampardesque style having apparently attracted the attention of his compatriot José Mourinho. The Valencia playmaker was in action in Portugal's draw against Austria this evening, and we decided to see what all the fuss is about. Our minute-by-minute scouting notebook can be found below. Something tells us Jim Lawlor's job is safe, but hopefully our report is at least slightly instructive. If not, we blame Gomes for not being sufficiently exciting.
1' He's the tall guy with orange boots. Handy.
3' Gomes is being played in a hybrid central midfield-winger role, starting in the centre but overlapping when Ronaldo drifts inside from the left.
8' Little direct involvement so far, but all the basics very neat and tidy.
9' This Portugal 4-4-2 really is very fluid. Sometimes Gomes presses in an attacking midfield role, sometimes he's forced to drop back and stand off. Nani has provisionally taken up Ronaldo's position on the left. So far they're managing to hold it together.
11' One-time United target William Carvalho is the man pulling the strings from deep when Portugal are in possession. Gomes seemingly occupying a shuttling role between Carvalho and the attack, and is yet to try anything too adventurous.
14' The first long-range pass from Gomes is hooked out towards Nani on the right flank. It's not a bad effort under pressure, but Austria's left-back cuts it out.
16' For a player who spent much of the season playing attacking midfield for Valencia, Gomes has quite a lot of defensive responsibility in central midfield in this 4-4-2. He seems to have the physicality to cope, and so far Austria haven't been able to find any pockets of space in between Portugal's lines.
18' A Gomes cross from a fairly deep and central position is cut out. However, his movement in creating passing triangles has so far been good.
19' Perhaps surprising, given his physicality, Gomes isn't in the penalty area for Portugal's first corner of the match. Coach Fernando Santos appears to have given him defensive duties instead.
22' Portugal certainly on top here. Austria are struggling to cope with their high pressure and incessant movement. Gomes' involvement has so far been functional rather than beautiful, like a Soviet tower block. If we've learned anything in the game's first quarter, it's that he's much more capable in a deep role than Juan Mata.
As an aside, there were fears before the game among Portuguese football expert Tom Kundert that this midfield would be too lightweight. However, so far their energy and intelligent pressing is allowing them to completely dominate.
25' Gomes hangs back near the left-back position when the diminutive Raphaël Guerreiro ventures forward.
29' Impressive work from Gomes on the counter-attack, driving away from two opponents deep in midfield.
29' OOH! Lovely swept left-footed ball by Gomes from the left flank is headed against the post by Nani.
32' Gomes sweeps a loose ball away from Alaba deep in midfield.
34' For the first time in the match (or at least that we've noticed), Gomes bursts into the Austria box from deep. However, a Nani cross sails over his head and instead finds Ronaldo, who's flagged for offside. Gomes, in spite of his towering stature, has so far lurked midway inside Austria's half instead of penetrating the penalty area.
43' Gomes looks like he's been instructed to play a little higher up the pitch. He's drifted over to the right side of the pitch for the first time and swings a cross in from deep, though it's comfortably headed away by the Austrian defence.
46' The second half's underway. No changes in personnel.
50' Gomes has a shoelace malfunction.
51' Gomes seems to be still playing quite high up the pitch, leaving Carvalho to anchor things. Portugal's centre-backs are having to play quite proactively as a result, charging out of defence to deny Austria space on the counter. Given Ricardo Carvalho and Pepe have a combined age of a spritely 71, that might not be ideal.
55' Gomes runs beyond Ronaldo and gets a fraction of space in the box, though he's closed down before he can pull the trigger. Despite coach Santos giving Gomes more freedom to roam, he's still not being allowed to enter the box on attacking set-pieces.
57' Very tidy work from Gomes from out on the left, midway in his own half. He won the ball before turning away from two opponents and laying it off to a teammate. If I was Harry Redknapp, I'd complement this big man on his surprisingly good feet.
58' Another nice pass from Gomes, who elegantly lofts a short pass out to the left on the turn. He's so far showing everything but the final pass.
69' Gomes now almost playing a more conventional attacking midfield role, but it's just not happening for Portugal.
70' On comes another supposed United target, João Mario. He replaces the ineffectual Quaresma.
78' Portugal have a penalty. Poor Austria.
79' Ronaldo hits the post! WOOF!
83' Gomes' neat performance appears to be earning plaudits on the interweb. His evening has been brought to a slightly premature end, being replaced by Swansea City flop Éder. It certainly wasn't the most eyegrabbing of displays from the United target, but his quality and versatility is evident. He'd be a very useful player for Mourinho to have at his disposal.
FT: Somehow things have ended goalless in Paris. Portugal dominated, but Lady Luck was wearing her Austria shirt. Unlucky, Cristiano.