Rough Diamonds #16- Andreas Pereira (Manchester United)

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Andreas Pereira is one of the most talented and skillful players that have come through the Manchester United youth system in some time (including Januzaj, Wilson, Pogba, Morrison). However his talent is not as evident by simply watching the matches. You have to pay close attention to him in order to catch the nuances to his game. However, with his contract running out in the summer and his selection for the 18 over the last few weeks we may be seeing more of Pereira in some first team matches be it in the FA Cup or getting 10-15 minutes towards the end of matches.

Last season, Pereira  showed flashes of brilliance, mostly with his finishing and dribbling, but was often completely invisible for a run of games.But still he had periods last year that helped maintain the hype surrounding him, where he excelled in games whenever Manchester United dominated possession. He was voted player of the tournament in the 2013 Milk Cup and scored the occasional blistering goal. He was, and is still one of the most well-regarded players in United’s youth setup.

Andreas follows the example of many good Belgian players being snatched by excellent Dutch scouting networks. He joined PSV Eindhoven’s youth academy at 9, and developed impressively until Manchester United snatched him up in 2011. At that time, Pereira was one of the most sought-after prospects in Europe, and he mentioned multiple visits to the club and a talk with Ferguson as one of the reasons he chose United. The Brazilian-born player has been capped for Belgium U-15, 16 and 18-teams many times and most remarkably, scored 10 in 9 caps for the U16 side. In 2014, he was called up to represent his country of birth to play a game in an U20 tournament in China.

When United first signed him, he commented the following;

I am an offensive midfielder, a real No 10. Setting up my team-mates, scoring goals and a good shot are my qualities.

Which was pretty much spot on for the longest time. He was and is a real playmaker at heart. The major difference is, how his game has developed since last year. He was more selfish, more dribble-focused and went for many long-shot attempts which was quite frustrating to watch at times. This season, he has evolved as a player quite a bit. He drops deep a lot to pick up the ball and gets involved in the build up play a bit more. Andreas still utilizes his fantastic technique to get out of tight situations, but has dropped the tendency of always drifting wide to dribble.

He has also developed the aggressive side of his game. Mind you, he is not a skilled tackler of the ball, but more of a Paul Scholes type that brings the effort and intensity, and misses a whole lot of them. This is fine, as at least he is pulling his weight defensively a lot more now. He should probably work on his positional awareness when his team don’t have the ball, and increase the range of his passing a bit. Other than that, he seems destined for success – be it in midfield or as a pure number ten.

The recent controversy around his contract negotiations brings a bad feeling to United fans who were around to experience the Morrison, Fryers and Pogba issues that all happened in the same year. There is no doubt in my mind that this guy should and could be given some minutes with the first team this season. His ability on the ball and technique is already good enough for him to partake in games where United have a comfortable lead and need to control the game out.

/u/monsieurryan & /u/rdzzl

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