Why Andreas Pereira won't break into the Manchester United first-team next season
Manchester United Football Club is often hailed as the English kings, particularly when it comes to developing youth. From Sir Matt Busby's Babes in the 1950s, to Sir Alex Ferguson's famed Class of 1992, the Red Devils have always put their faith in youngsters. In fact, the Old Trafford side has had a homegrown player in every single matchday squad from October 30th, 1937; a remarkable record.
Arguably their biggest talent from the current crop is Andreas Pereira. Hailing from Duffel, Belgium, the attacking midfielder has been on United's books since 2011, before making the step-up to the first-team in 2014.
Since then, though, opportunities for the Brazil U23 international have been rather hard to come by. He hasn't featured once in a competitive game under Jose Mourinho, with his last start coming in the 2014/15 season, under then boss, Louis van Gaal.
The last two years have been spent out on loan, plying his trade in La Liga for both Granada and Valencia CF. The 22-year-old has made 60 appearances combined during both those short-term spells, making a real name for himself with some classy performances.
That begs the question, just where will he fit into Manchester United's side upon his return to the Theatre of Dreams over the summer? With an extremely top-heavy first-team squad at Mourinho's disposal, will Pereira fit in at all?
His primary position is the #10 role, playing just in behind the striker. The first thing to note is the possibility that slot in the team may be completely eradicated by manager Mourinho; that's if he continues to adopt the 4-3-3.
So his attention would turn towards winning Manchester United's trust as a winger. Another issue immediately comes to the fore here, too. Like Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, Pereira would prefer to play on the left-hand side rather than the right. Can you honestly say he'd displace the aforementioned trio from the team? I highly doubt it.
Let's move over to the right flank. Here you have Juan Mata more often than not. Since Sanchez's arrival from Arsenal, Mourinho has tried Martial out there and it's fair to say that little experiment didn't work. United's squad is extremely deep on one side, but rather thin on the other. Unfortunately for Pereira, I just don't feel he's good enough to stake his claim as a regular starting on the right in United's XI. Instead, don't be surprised to see the gaffer spend big on a proven right-sided footballer.
During the Red Devils' pre-season tour, Mourinho utilised Pereira in the midfield. It's fair to say he hardly set the world alight while out in the United States over the summer playing in that position. Sure, there was some nice touches and passages of play, but doing it in a friendly is completely different to performing at a high level in the Premier League.
In all honesty, I fully expect Pereira to come back to Old Trafford this summer, then head out for pre-season with the squad. Following that, I don't think he'll start the campaign as an integral member of Mourinho's plans. After two loan moves away, I'm unsure as to whether he'll go out on another short-term move, instead, I'm half-thinking he'll be shipped off permanently. Where to? Who knows, he seems to suit Spanish football though...