After a couple of loan moves to Spain, twelve months ago felt like Andreas Pereira’s time to shine at Manchester United.
The Brazilian looked great on the 2018 tour in the #6 role, sitting deeper and pulling the strings from midfield. When the serious stuff started, Pereira was handed a few appearances but after a poor game against Brighton, we’d seldom see him under Jose Mourinho.
Pereira’s minutes did improve when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was named manager in December, but he was more of a rotational option rather than a first-team regular. When he played, he hardly set the world alight (that sublime goal against Southampton aside)…
Just before United jetted out for their 2019 tour in the Far East, many were left surprised when Pereira was handed a new long-term contract. Fans weren’t convinced he deserved that. Their criticism was more than fair.
However, just two games into the tour, I’m believing in Pereira once again. Solskjaer is trying to implement a new style and system at the Theatre of Dreams. It’s once based around pressing high and winning the ball back quickly. There aren’t many better at that in the current squad than the 23-year-old Brazilian, who is showing he still has a big future in Manchester.
Now not sitting as deep in the midfield as he was under Mourinho, Pereira is now operating as a true box-to-box midfielder who is looking to make an impact on both sides of the ball.
Against Leeds United yesterday, he was leading the press from midfield excellently, while having the energy and speed to get back into position if the Red Devils failed at winning the ball back quickly.
Not only was Pereira making a difference defensively, he was also more-than-willing to make late runs into the box, providing that extra body for the wide men to aim at. Perhaps United already have the perfect replacement for Ander Herrera at the club…?
The best part about Pereira is that he’s still learning and improving week-in-week-out. Sure, United’s midfield still looks a little underwhelming on paper, but there is a good base available to Solskjaer that he can build upon.
For me, Pereira has the potential to play the majority of games in this upcoming term. He allows Paul Pogba to be his creative best as Pereira does all the dirty work for the mercurial Frenchman. Although mistakes will be made as he continues to grow and adapt, we’ve been given a glimmer of hope as this new system suits him down to the ground.