Is it finally Andreas Pereira's time to shine at Manchester United?
Andreas Periera is someone whom it feels like has been around, forever but is yet to make his mark. The talented Brazilian made his Manchester United debut four years ago, but hasn't been involved with the first team anywhere near as much as he'd like. Every pre-season, the 22-year-old comes in, scores a beautiful free kick, plays some great passes and then, Old Trafford won't hear from him for twelve months. His senior debut came way back in 2014, during the infamous 4-0 loss against MK Dons. Now, it's time for him to challenge for a first-team spot.
After impressing boss Jose Mourinho, Periera was sent to Granda on a loan deal. He thrived there. The then 20-year old was among La Liga's best young players. He topped the charts for chances created and dribbles completed. The move away was a success. The self-proclaimed Special One was impressed, too.
Pereira played a major part in yet another preseason in 17-18. Mourinho wanted to utilise him as a central midfielder rather than a winger; the position he played on for Granada. He showed promise and put in some memorable performances. He was given a new number (15) and was expected to be a key squad player. But, after not making the matchday 18 for the opening fixtures of the Premier League, Pereira panicked and forced a loan move to Valencia. He did so with Mourinho's disapproval.
And the season at Valencia wasn't the best. At Granada, Periera started 34 games. At Valencia, the attacker made 27 outings in total. His game time went down and so did his numbers. He scored less, created less and passed at a worse rate. Definitely not a success, but it helped Periera become mentally stronger.
He would've come in handy last season when Pogba was injured, he could have made his mark. The young Scott McTominay went on to play in crucial games against the top sides and even in the Champions League, leaving Pereira wondering what if?
The summer was crucial for Pereira. He had no World Cup duty, so he started training early. He and Jose had a talk wherein the manager promised Pereira game time. Pereira was determined to break into the first team this season. And that has been visible in the games against Club America, San Jose Earthquakes, AC Milan, Liverpool and finally Real Madrid. The #15 hasn't played as an attacking midfielder or on the wings, but he has been deployed at the base of the midfield, to play the Michael Carrick role. At least the youngster has the man himself to learn from.
He is calm on the ball, positions himself extremely well, has good technique and vision, plays inch-perfect passes in between the lines and is always positive, trying to drive his team forward. The 22-year-old doesn't hide, is fearless and always makes himself available. He is learning the defensive side of the game, too. Pereira will cover ground and battle for possession. His deliveries from set pieces are spot on, too. Just watch the free kick against Liverpool in the clip below. Mourinho has performed the classic trequartista to regista conversion. Pereira has been partnered alongside two workhorses in Mctominay and Ander Herrera, who both allow Periera to be adventurous and help in shielding the centre-backs.
Last season, Pogba and Sanchez had to drop deep to build play. Matic isn't the best creator. Pereira is. Him coming in almost feels like a new signing that can play a huge role in Manchester United's season. Pereira could easily ping the ball to the likes of Pogba and Sanchez in the final third where they can do the most damage.
Pereira is now expected to start the game against Leicester City following his excellent pre-season. Nemanja Matic is injured, whereas Pogba will arrive late after his World Cup exploits. The Brazilian's quick, vertical passing will come in handy. He is now confident, has matured, has the backing of the manager, has the support of the fans and has a defined position in the team. He won't be a permanent starter throughout the season, but Mourinho now has another midfielder who can get United a goal back, like another certain Belgian. Periera has given Mourinho another tactic to approach games, rather than just going route one.
This is Andreas Pereira's season.