Andreas Pereira; how could he be used by Jose Mourinho this coming season?

Following on from a largely successful season-long loan at Valencia, Andreas Pereira will hope to make his breakthrough into Jose Mourinho’s side this season. At 22 years old, the path Pereira has taken so far at Manchester United can draw similarities to Jesse Lingard’s late progression into the first team. Pereira certainly possesses the technical abilities to follow in Lingard’s footsteps, and join him as another academy product in the first team picture.

Pereira’s versatility, in theory, should allow the Brazilian to harness multiple opportunities in Jose Mourinho’s side this season. Able to play across the midfield, or advanced as a wide forward, Pereira is likely to get chances at the start of this season whilst many senior players regain fitness after the FIFA World Cup. During his time at Valencia, Pereira featured largely as a wide playmaker in a 4-4-2 system. On the basis of pre-season, it, however, appears Mourinho will favour a 4-3-3 system, with occasional switches to 4-2-3-1 over the next year.

Whilst not the most physical of players, Pereira has the footballing nous to play a deep-lying role in a midfield three, where he can offer a different option to the more defensive-orientated Nemanja Matic. This is the role in which he has filled during the first two friendlies this pre-season and could well become Matic’s understudy this campaign. It is likely that Mourinho see’s a midfield three of Matic, Paul Pogba, and Fred as his preferred base for this season.

However, with Fred and Pogba both returning late from the World Cup, along with Marouane Fellaini, the opportunity will arise for the likes of Pereira and Ander Herrera to impose themselves in the two more advanced central midfield roles during the first few game weeks. Additionally, Mourinho’s track record at United in both domestic and European competitions has been impressive so far. The club has often reached the advanced stages of all three competitions over the past two seasons.

We can expect more of the same this year, which opens up doors for Andreas Pereira, in the same way Scott McTominay benefitted from previously. McTominay has proven that if you can gain the manager’s trust in these lesser fixtures, minutes will be awarded in return. If Mourinho is to play a 4-2-3-1 system, it could allow the opportunity for Pereira to stake a claim at the attacking midfield role, behind spearhead Romelu Lukaku. This was the system used most frequently by United last season, with Jesse Lingard the most common occupant of the role in behind Lukaku.

Having witnessed the success of Pogba on the counter in a deep two-man midfield for France, Mourinho may well revert back to this system again this season. Although the impressive Lingard is likely to hold down the number ten role if this system is played, without Lingard there isn’t much depth in this position. Mourinho has favoured Juan Mata in a wide role rather than central in a 4-2-3-1, largely due to his lack of speed to make runs in behind Lukaku.

This opens up a chance for Pereira to become Mourinho’s second choice in the attacking midfield role. After all, Pereira’s most noticeable performances for United have been in this role, such as his impressive debut playing attacking midfield against Ipswich Town back in 2015. This season is arguably make-or-break time for Pereira, who at 22, is still yet to receive a serious chance in the United first team squad. It is looking almost certain that Mourinho will, for the first time, be keeping Pereira around for the upcoming season. It is now up to the player to showcase his ability to perform for the side.

Written by Ronan Pike-Burke

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