Andreas Pereira burst onto the scene for Manchester United fans worldwide in the summer of 2015 when the young Brazilian impressed during the club’s pre-season tour of the United States a few months after making his first team debut in the Premier League. Then manager Louis van Gaal talked warmly about the young attacking midfielder as a series of impressive displays saw excitement and anticipation grow of a new teenage prodigy lighting up Old Trafford. However, van Gaal’s somewhat negative tactics weren’t a good fit for the creative and free spirit of Pereira who struggled to get game time under the Dutch manager despite impressing in the Capital One Cup. The then 19-year-old had to watch from the sides and by the end of the season, a disappointing campaign on a personal level was finally over.
In the summer, though, out went van Gaal and in came Jose Mourinho. Pereira was instantly handed a chance to impress in pre-season friendlies and earned Mourinho’s affection. The Portuguese manager fielded the Belgium-born youngster in central midfield as part of United’s double pivot, which was an entirely new position for Pereira at this level having previously appeared on either wing or as a number 10. Pereira did well, but due to the quality already in United’s midfield with the likes of Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger and the returning Paul Pogba, Mourinho and Pereira agreed a season-long loan would benefit both player and club. Pereira recently stated that Mourinho’s wanted him to join Fulham in the Championship, but nothing came of that deal and Pereira instead embarked on a new adventure in Andalusia at Granada.
Under ultra-attacking coach Paco Jemez, Pereira was immediately thrust into the starting XI and has stayed there throughout the season, despite Jemez later getting dismissed from the job. Pereira has thrived in Spain, slotting in perfectly in La Liga with his trickery, intelligence and technique. The creator has been used both in central midfield and in attacking positions, mainly on the left wing with the license to cut inside. Despite Granada’s struggles at the bottom of the league, Pereira has been a key attacking outlet for a team spending large parts of games defending.
Pereira is extremely comfortable in tight spaces and can use his technique and skill to dribble out of tight situations as well as going on longer runs with the ball under control. His speed makes him a difficult player to defend and he can go either side of the defender thanks to the quality of both his feet.
Pereira is also an adept goal scorer with the capacity to score from distance with strikes or after timing late runs into the box. In this regard, he sometimes resembles Frank Lampard slightly with his understanding of when to get into the box. He’s got some way to go to match the Englishman in terms of numbers, mind. Although Pereira’s left foot is good, his right can perform magic and the midfielder has a very powerful shot in his repertoire. This makes him even more of a threat as opposition defences can’t back off him when close to their goal. If they do, he’ll shoot, but if they don’t he can beat them with a dribble.
As it has been shown on this site previously, set-pieces can decide games. Having the right players making the correct moves in the box when attacking a corner is worthless though if the quality on the ball in isn’t good enough. With Pereira’s right foot delivering the ball, though, you can rest assured that the delivery will be of the highest quality. Be it from free-kicks, corners or direct shot free-kicks, Pereira has the quality to deliver a great ball.
The Brazilian also boast an impressive passing range which could see him develop into a midfielder capable of dictating games from central areas as he can already switch the play effectively with a single pass. His intelligence and courage also see him play through balls with inch-perfect quality to create opportunities for his strikers or wide players.
Andreas Pereira is an extremely exciting young player and it remains to be seen whether or not he can force his way into next season’s Manchester United squad. Personally, I feel he has the tools to make it and should be capable of appearing both as a central and wide player for Mourinho. In a midfield three he would be ideal to appear in one of the wider roles so he can find space in either half-space, he could thrive as a creative 10 between the lines or he could play as a winger on either side thanks to his dribbling and crossing abilities.
Two years since his debut in United’s first team at home to Tottenham, Pereira probably need to make himself a fixture in the squad next season if he wants to stay at United as there’s no need for him to go on loan again. Come the summer, he’ll be ready to challenge for a place in the squad (and team) and if Mourinho decides against giving him the chance his quality merits, Pereira should move to a club where he’ll get that first team chance. As with all young players, Pereira needs to be more consistent in his performances, but surely that will come with experience. Wherever he may end up, the future looks bright for Andreas Pereira. United fans have seen him come through the academy and briefly impress for the first team, next season it’s time to do it on a consistent basis.