Analysis: Would Wolves’ Goncalo Guedes function at Barcelona?

For many years, Goncalo Guedes was one of the few remaining sources of light in an obscure Valencia side. Having finally moved on, and brought €32.6m into the coffers at Los Che, his next destination has not worked out well.

Although he has played 18 times for Wolves, under three different managers, those appearances add up to just 971 minutes across the season and a disappointing three goal contributions. Twelve of those appearances have been starts.

Former Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui has only compounded matters. The Basque manager will be well aware of his qualities, but does not see Guedes as a crucial part of his plans. Thus, Guedes has reportedly told agent Jorge Mendes to get him a move back to Spain, as per MD.

The Portuguese would happily return to Valencia, even on loan, but he could also be an option for Barcelona. Xavi Hernandez has just lost Memphis Depay, and has asked the club for a replacement this January.

One of the chief reasons that Memphis is on his way out of Barcelona is that the Dutchman did not fit in with Xavi’s schemes. Dropping down the pecking order quickly, would Guedes work better?

For most of Guedes’ career, both at Valencia and elsewhere, he has operated from the left side, cutting in onto his right foot. Especially under Marcelino Garcia Toral, where Los Che could see why Paris Saint-Germain paid so much for him, he was accustomed to flying down the left and slaloming his way towards the box.

Much more of a creative influence, he recorded a career-best 11 assists in 2018, illustrating his role as provider for two central strikers. He scored five goals that season, and through the numbers, his slow move towards the centre of the pitch is visible.

In his final season at Valencia under Jose Bordalas, Guedes scored 11 and gave five assists. By the end, he was playing either as a lone element up front or working off a natural striker. His desire to cut in and shoot means he is always likely to gravitate slightly more to the left.

That move was induced by a number of factors. He became the main creator and goalscorer in the side, meaning it made more sense to build it around him. As Valencia became more conservative, he was unsustainable as part of a midfield four and as their resources were cut, he was the star of the show in attack.

Perhaps he can still move from out wider to form a hybrid front three/two with Robert Lewandowski and Ousmane Dembele, but it’s also true to say that it is not his usual role these days. Guedes over the last two seasons operates best when given space to burst into on the counter, or allowed to pick up the ball somewhere along the width of the box.

While Xavi does like to move Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres inside off the left, he much prefers them to combine with Lewandowski or the central midfielders, rather than get on the ball themselves. That area in front of the box tends to be reserved for the central midfielders, in particular Pedri.

This is not to say that Guedes’ role or use could not be altered, but based off the latest evidence, he may well suffer from the same issues of Memphis. Both seek to be the player that puts their foot on the ball and Xavi is unlikely to ask that of Guedes. Of course, a far larger factor in any potential move is likely to be Jorge Mendes.

Tags Barcelona Goncalo Guedes Valencia Wolves
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