Andre Gomes could feature in the Barca starting line-up against Chelsea in the Champions League despite the midfielder publicly admitting he is not enjoying playing football and is struggling to cope with pressure.
The 24-year old Portuguese international gave an interview to Panenka magazine in which he described his “hell” at Barcelona.
“I don’t feel good on the pitch,” he said. “I am not enjoying what I am doing. The first six months were pretty good but then things changed. Maybe it’s not the right word to use but it has turned into a kind of hell because I have started to feel more pressure.”
“With [some] pressure I feel fine but with the pressure [I put] on myself I don’t. The feeling that I have during games is bad. My team-mates help me a lot but things don’t work out the way they want them to work out. In training, I am generally relaxed although there can be days when I feel a little low on confidence and it’s noticeable.”
Barca manager Ernesto Valverde has described Gomes as “brave” for speaking out, while Gome’s teammate in midfield Sergio Busquets also pledged himself and the squad to help their team-mate.
“Andre has lots of qualities; let’s see if tomorrow is the day that he shows that,” Valverde said. “Players and coaches are careful not to show any insecurity or weakness but Andre has done so, which is brave, but it is not new and he is not the only one – it has happened to us all in one way or another and we have to find ways of confronting that and carrying on.”
When asked if Gomes was ready to play, Valverde replied: “If the coach believes so, yes.” Gomes’s inclusion may depend on a straight choice between him and Paulinho and could also be dependent on the fitness of Andrés Iniesta, who was able to train after a week out with a hamstring strain.
Busquets added: “We knew something of Andre’s situation but it’s a very personal thing. We have tried to help him, advise him, be at his side but he is the one that takes it home. The background noise at the Camp Nou should be positive now. I think he’s ready. It’s an extra pressure he puts on himself but I am sure he’s prepared and we will help him from the inside, and the fans will help him from the outside. What we all want is what’s best for the club.”