Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has criticised Blaugrana supporters that have jeered Andre Gomes recently, suggesting they should "stay at home" instead of coming to the Camp Nou.
Gomes has struggled to find his best form since joining the club in the summer, and when he was introduced as a substitute on Sunday against former team Valencia, some supporters whistled the Portugal international.
Pique has come out in full support of his under-fire team-mate. "The people who whistle players before they've kicked a ball should stay at home," he said, per AS.
The defender went on to suggest the jeers are "intolerable" and do little to help the team. "It's one thing a player having a bad game and the fans complaining, but it's quite another doing so before he's kicked a ball," he added. "That pushes his confidence through the floor."
Although he was given some flak as he entered the field, the cameo did end up being a positive one for the 23-year-old. Gomes grabbed Barca's fourth goal in an absorbing 4-2 win.
Per WhoScored.com, it was a goal that's been a long time coming for the Portuguese:
André Gomes: Has scored his first Barcelona goal on his 33rd appearance for the club in all competitions #FCBValencia2017-3-19 21:33:10
The frustration in the Barca fanbase at Gomes is not to do with his lack of goals, though. Indeed, the midfielder has found it difficult to adapt to life at the Camp Nou and cement his place in the team's midfield.
When he has featured in the middle of the park, Gomes has been indecisive in possession, has made poor decisions and, as a result, has lacked the confidence to ghost past opponents with the regularity he did for Valencia.
Finding a position for the midfielder has been tough, too. At times he's been the deepest man in midfield, while he's also been used in a more advanced role. Consistency, as such, has been difficult to come by.
Sports journalist Rafael Hernandez was particularly scathing in his assessment of the midfielder before he found the net on Sunday:
Rafael Hernández @RafaelH117
André Gomes is like those dreams of going to school without pants, incredibly embarrassing and makes you want to forget.2017-3-19 21:21:30
Although he's struggled to show his best for Barca, it's worth remembering that Gomes was a fine player for Valencia.
Over the previous two seasons, his playmaking skills, dribbling ability and versatility made him one of the most promising young players in European football. Indeed, when Barcelona signed Gomes, it was deemed as something of a coup; as reported by Pete Jenson of the MailOnline, Real Madrid were also keen to get him.
With that in mind, perhaps some more patience is needed before a final judgement is made on the player. As Pique noted, support from the fanbase would only help Gomes to rediscover his form; perhaps his first goal for the club can be a catalyst for a strong end to the season for him.