Carles Gil plays with such an ease, and smooth grace, his excellence stands out easily when grading with the eye test. Whether it's all the dribbles he completes, chances he creates or when he's pulling down a clearance out of the sky with a velcro first touch, it's not very difficult to identify and appreciate his quality.
Somehow, just looking at the numbers this year might be even easier.
Gil leads MLS in chances created, big chances created, dribbles completed and more, and is tied for the league lead in assists with four. He's second in MLS in dribble success rate and passes ending in the final third and is third in possession won in the final third. You know what -- just look at the graphic:
“It’s critical that we have Carles around for many years," head coach and sporting director Bruce Arena told media on a virtual press conference. "It’s a difficult position to fill, the skills required to play the position is very demanding. Not many teams in the league have players of Carles’ caliber. We’re real pleased he’s going to be with the New England Revolution.”
The move solidifies the team's core, headlined by Gil, Gustavo Bou, Andrew Farrell, Adam Buksa and more. New England were expected to compete near the top of the Eastern Conference this season and have enjoyed a fast start, sitting atop the East in both points and points per game early in the campaign.
"I’m so happy to sign this new contract," Gil said. "Since I came here, there were many reasons I took this decision. I want to continue, to improve and to learn, and of course, win some trophies.”
Gil arrived in New England in 2019 and was an instant success, winning MLS Newcomer of the Year after a stellar campaign in which he had 10 goals and 14 assists, starting every one of the club's 34 games. He was injured for most of 2020 and the team struggled, but when he returned for the playoffs, he helped guide New England to the Eastern Conference final.
People around the Revolution believe he could go down in club history as one of the best.
"We have Shalrie Joseph on our staff, who has been one of the outstanding players in the history of the Revolution, and Shalrie believes Carles is the best player to put on a Revolution uniform," Arena said. "I'm not sure I'm going to argue with him about that."
The admiration between captain and coach is very much mutual.
“Bruce was an important factor in this decision," Gil said. "He’s a legend in this country, all of us who are around him want to learn from him.”
Arena has coached some talented attackers in his day. He began his MLS coaching career with D.C. United in 1996, in a team headlined by attacking midfielder Marco Etcheverry. His LA Galaxy teams had Landon Donovan, David Beckham and plenty of other stars, just to name a few.
Gil reminds him of a couple of the league's first great No. 10s.
“I started in this league 26 years ago with D.C. United with Marco Etcheverry, in an era when Carlos Valderrama was playing too," Arena said. "Those two are great playmakers who led their teams to a lot of success. Carles is comparable to those players, but our actions will speak for themselves. Hopefully over the next couple of years we can demonstrate that we can compete for MLS Cup. If we do that, it’ll speak for Carles as well.”
Hardware is on Gil's mind, too.
“I’ve experienced a lot of nice moments here," Gil said, "but without a doubt, the best is yet to come.”