Barcelona manager Luis Enrique believes Andre Gomes has played at just "30 or 40 %" of his capacity since a big-money move from Valencia. However, the Spaniard has backed the Portugal international to turn the situation around after the midfielder helped his side secure a 7-1 win over Osasuna on Wednesday night (26 April) by scoring a brace.
Gomes, 23, was one of the main stars of the last summer transfer window amid reports claiming Chelsea, Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid were all interested in securing his services.
Real Madrid looked set to win the race after Zinedine Zidane identified him as the perfect alternative to Paul Pogba.
However, Barcelona beat Los Blancos to his signature, making him their most expensive signing of the summer.The Catalans paid Valencia €35m (£29.6m, $38.1m) for the midfielder, but the deal also included €20m in add-ons and a potential extra fee of €15m should he win the Ballon d'Or more than once.
Gomes was expected to become Andres Iniesta's long-term replacement in Barcelona's midfield. However, the Portugal international has failed to fulfil those expectations during his debut campaign at the La Liga giants, even being booed by his own fans on occasion.
Luis Enrique has now admitted the midfielder is yet to justify his summer move, but backed him to be a success in the long term following his impressive performance against Osasuna.
"Beyond the two goals – the first of which was a very difficult finish – Andre has a huge potential," Luis Enrique said after the win over Osasuna saw his side remain top of La Liga on goal difference.
"I can and will say that 1000 times over, even if he is criticised a lot. He can play in different positions. For me he is a very special player. He is only using 30 or 40% of his capacity. Imagine him at 100%. He needs to improve, he needs to improve emotionally but he's at the best possible club to do that. He is on the right path to do it. He's very demanding, very responsible and he has quality."