With Manchester United’s Andreas Pereira reportedly soon to arrive at FFC, Matthew Aris takes a look at our potential new midfield signing.
Of the three most credible transfer rumours this summer (this, Manor Solomon and Joao Palhinha), it’s fair to say that Andreas Pereira has drawn the least excitement from the Fulham fanbase.
Is this a fair reaction? He might not have pulled up any trees at so far in his career, but has Silva spotted some unlocked potential?
Rise to Old TraffordEmbed from Getty Images
Pereira was born in Duffel, Belgium where his father, Marcos Pereira, was playing at the time. He joined his local club, Lommel, and then after a short spell at PSV Eindhoven, he joined Manchester United in 2012. Since then, he’s spent four seasons on loan at Granada, Valencia, Lazio, and most recently Flamengo.
He spent his initial years at Old Trafford in the development teams, playing regularly for the U18s and U21s before making his professional debut as a half-time substitute in the League Cup, as United were humiliated by MK Dons 4-0 in August 2014. He then made his first Premier League appearance against Spurs. The playmaker scored his first premier league goal in 2019 against Southampton and was a starter in Paris as United came back from a two goal home deficit to beat PSG 3-1 in the Champions League.
He represented Belgium at youth level, but had a change of heart in his late teens as he snubbed the country of his birth for the Selecao. He played an important role in Brazil’s U20 World Cup run in 2015 as he equalised in the final before they eventually succumbed to Serbia in extra time. His only senior international appearance came in August 2018 when he was the first player to represent his national team without being born in Brazil in more than 100 years.
Pereira has been a prominent figure in all his loan spells despite not making the best of the opportunities. His most recent spell was at Rodrigo Muniz’s former side Flamengo last season. It was there he had his most fruitful spell in terms of end product. He made 31 appearances in all competitions, as well as registering eight goals and three assists as he helped them to the final of the Copa Libertadores in November 2021.
However in the final against Palmeiras, a horrendous touch from Pereira in extra time allowed Deyverson to run through and score his side’s winner (as you’ll see from the slightly bizarre video below).
Where he fits
Pereira will most likely be used as Fabio Carvalho’s replacement as the more progressive eight in Silva’s preferred 4-3-3 system, however, he played a much different role in Brazil. For his 2022 season in Flamengo, he would play as part of the two in a 4-2-3-1 formation where he was utilised in a deeper role and dictating play. There he would show his passing prowess and versatility which could prove useful further into the season.
On the other hand, during his 2021 season, he played on the left of a midfield two in a 4-4-2, allowing him to go further forward and attack the half spaces. He would also connect with the winger and full-back, which would be similar to his role at Fulham. This is shown by the heatmap (SofaScore), which is compared to Carvalho’s map last season showing the similarities between the two’s play styles. Moreover, due to the recent acquisition of Joao Palhinha, who prefers to dictate play himself, the right-footed playmaker is more likely to be used in an advanced role.
Statistically, Pereira has an xG of 2.44 last season despite him scoring seven goals, which is a massive over-performance and usually shows luck but, in this case, it shows his quality of shooting from distance. Similar to his stunner against Brentford that went viral from last year’s friendly, Pereira is not afraid to strike from distance and seems to have a good knack for finding the net. This is also shown by his 35 shots from outside of the box during his 26 appearances for Lazio which compounded with the shot map from Understat show that the Hammy End can expect a few balls next season if he keeps it up.
Pereira was in the top 25% of passers in Brazil last year for key passes per 90 and passes into the final third proving his strong playmaking abilities. On the other hand, he was in the bottom 20% in his position for defensive action per 90 showing that if Marco still wants to play a high pressing system, he will have to coach it into him during pre-season.
Hit or Miss?
Only time will tell whether Pereira will bloom or be another recruiting blunder, but the fact that Silva is reported to want him should give him some credit and time. I think it is a sensible move as there aren’t a plethora of attacking midfielders on the market and under Silva’s tuition, any attacking player can reach new heights. He has one year left on his deal, but with an optional year’s extension resulting in the price not being as low as you would expect.
The price tag is sizeable, but a new number 10 is essential with Carvalho’s departure. Therefore, without forking out £25m for a youthful Morgan Gibbs-White, it seems a reasonable investment for a player with a lot of years left in him and with Premier League experience already.