Andreas Pereira was signed as a youth player under manager at the time Sir Alex Ferguson in 2011, moving from the PSV Eindhoven youth side to Manchester United. He first appeared for the United first team in the 2014/15 season where he took part in one Premier League game as well as an EFL Cup game. He added another 11 appearances for the Red Devils moving into 2015/16, before loan moves to Granada and Valencia respectively over the following two seasons. He returned to Old Trafford last season and appeared 22 times during the season. Last week, he put pen to paper on a new contract keeping him at United for another 4 years.
There are only 3 things certain in life: death, taxes and Manchester Utd fans discussing Andreas Pereira in pre-season. Over his entire spell at Manchester United, he seems to have been caught in a ever-repeating circular current in which he is taken on the pre-season tour, given time to impress before then not being massively utilised by United in the season ahead or sent out on loan.
In total, Pereira has racked up 35 appearances for Manchester United across all competitions, however he has registered just 2 goals and a single assist over this time. His time at Granada saw an improvement to these figures, where he managed 5 goals and 3 assists in 37 appearances in addition to 1 goal and 5 assists in 29 Valencia appearances. It is immediately obvious from these statistics that his Manchester United attacking output has simply not been up to scratch and if he is to finally find himself in the first team equation more regularly, these figures will have to be improved.
Pereira is the definition of a versatile midfielder, having played numerous times in all of the following positions: CDM, CM, CAM, LW, RW and CF. This could be seen as a greatly advantageous trait as it means he can slot into pretty much any attacking position when called upon. This is definitely true to some extent as it is undoubtedly useful to have versatility within the squad, however, I also believe this is the main reason that he has failed to become a first team regular.
Right now, we simply do not know his best or favoured position and to cement a first team place, you have to specialise in 1 or 2. For, as long as he does not specialise, he will remain the wallpaper that covers the cracks in the squad and I think will struggle to really progress past the stage he is at now. It currently remains difficult to pinpoint his best position as he lacks the strength to be an out and out holding midfielder and the attacking output to be a regular attacking midfielder or winger.
His role in the upcoming season will largely depend on how Manchester United’s summer transfer dealings pan out. At this moment in time, the midfield section of our squad is running very thin and many believe it is generally not of the quality it should be. The departures of Fellaini and Herrera coupled with the rumours of Pogba wanting out have caused this and if we do not make serious investment into a minimum of two new midfielders this summer, then Pereira will have to be used whether we want to or not to manage fixture congestion and potential injuries.
Solskjaer stated that Andreas “understands what it means to play for United” and that he “works non-stop every day in training and has a great character”. Understanding United and appreciating the chance to play for them is definitely a key attribute that all United players should have but unfortunately don’t and so Pereira has at least this on his side. However, these traits should come in conjunction with being a world class player and performing well every time you put on the kit and right now, Pereira is not at that level.
In conclusion, if Manchester United land their midfield targets (two players minimum) over the remainder of the summer transfer window, I fully expect Pereira’s role of being the ‘versatile squad player’ to continue throughout next season. If he wants to become a regular name in the United team, he and the United coaching staff need to hone in on his greatest strengths and work out his long-term best position.
Written by Nick Pasquet
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Nick_FootballPA