Andre Gomes admits he couldn’t handle the ‘pressure’ of being a Barcelona player.
The Portugal international joined Everton in a £22m this summer following an impressive loan spell at Goodison Park, having failed to establish himself at the Nou Camp after joining from Valencia in 2016.
The midfielder admits the ‘pressure and expectation’ at the Spanish side was difficult to cope with, revealing he now feels ‘really good’ after moving to Merseyside on a permanent basis.
“My first year at Barcelona was good, but the second was difficult — and the problem was with me,” Gomes told a press conference to mark his permanent transfer.
“It was the pressure and expectation I put on myself, not the expectations of the fans or the club. When I spoke to Marco [Silva] the first time, before I came on loan, I wanted to feel more capable again.
“The problem is the expectations on yourself and how you are not capable of doing something when you are not at that level. I wanted to try to be myself, to do the simple things. I’m glad I accepted that loan because now I feel really good. That is why I have signed.”
Gomes admits playing for Barcelona, who he described as a ‘massive club’, was a unique type of pressure and says he has enjoyed his football more since moving to the Premier League.
“Barca is a massive club with a different kind of pressure,” he said. “It’s not easy – only a few players who Barcelona sign stay there for a long time.
“Right now, the big difference is the way I enjoy the simple things: the training sessions, times I’m with my team-mates in the hotel, times I’m with my family, the games. It’s all about enjoying it more. When you are happy you will give your best and perform at a high level.”
Despite having struggled to adapt to life at the Nou Camp, Gomes says playing alongside stellar names such as Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta have helped to elevate and improve his game.
“Barcelona was a really good experience, I improved a lot and played with some of the best players in the world: Messi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets.
“Now I know the game much better.
“The opportunity at Everton [last season] was really good and a new start. People gave me the confidence to come here and enjoy my game, which was what I was trying to do.
“Marco and Marcel gave me confidence. I had a brilliant year with my teammates, it is an amazing dressing room.
“It was hard in the beginning, but I started to feel better in the games and with my teammates.
“At the end it was really good and I felt comfortable.”