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Can Andreas Pereira make it at Manchester United or is he surplus to requirements?

Andreas Pereira was convinced to sign for Manchester United’s academy by Sir Alex Ferguson back in November 2011 but his signing from PSV Eindhoven could not be ratified until his 16th birthday in January 2012 – he was unable to play his first match until April 2012 because of the international clearance process. Whilst playing at youth level, Pereira played a total of 65 times (59 starts and six from the bench), scoring 19 goals, assisting 14 times.

Pereira also won the Denzil Haroun Reserve Player of the Year during the 2014/15 season, which was also the season he broke into the first team, making two appearances in the Premier League and the League Cup under the management of Louis van Gaal. The following season (2015/16), Pereira made a total of 11 appearances, scoring one goal at first team level, which was great to see. Many thought he could go from strength to strength.

This, however, is not quite what happened. During the 2016/17 season, Pereira was loaned to La Liga side Granada for the entire season, playing 37 times and scoring five goals. The following season, he was loaned to Valencia for the entire season, playing 29 times, scoring a single goal. Jose Mourinho, the manager of United at the time, was under pressure for allowing Pereira to leave on loan that season, but it was what the player had demanded, not him – he made this clear at the time.

At the start of the 2018/19 season, after a largely positive pre-season, Pereira ended up staying at United to fight for his place in the team. He made a total of 22 appearances, scoring one goal. 15 of those appearances were in the Premier League alone, which is also where the goal he scored came, against Southampton in March 2019, a game which also saw him get an assist also. His stats for this season shows him having one through ball, 12 long balls and 25% of his crosses were successful.

Pereira averaged around 24 passes per match, which for an attacking player is quite poor, raising many questions of his ability to offer something as a starting player in this team. At a time where supporters of the club are calling for world class players and players who have a good consistency level, it is up to Pereira to show that he is of the ilk needed in this team. If he fails to show any growth in this squad, that will be on him and nobody else.

During the current season (2019/20), Pereira has made 11 appearances in the Premier League, four short of the 15 in the competition last season. He has made 15 appearances in all competitions. On Sunday, against Brighton and Hove Albion, Pereira scored the opening goal of the game in which became a 3-1 victory for United. The goal matches his tally from last season. He also has an assist, which came against Chelsea in the 4-0 victory at the start of the season, matching his record from last season.

There has been an improvement, at least based on last season in the Premier League. His shot accuracy in the 2018/19 season stood at 25% after having eight shots on goal with just two on target – playing 15 times in the league. This season, in 11 appearances (until 10 November 2019), Pereira has a 41% shot accuracy after having 22 shots on goal and having nine of them on target. His cross accuracy has decreased to 18% when it stood at 25% last season, but he has played four fewer matches.

It is clear that there has been an improvement in Pereira this season, especially with his shots on goal. He will end tip playing many more matches and could become a player that could show more growth as the season progresses. I don’t think he should be written off at this moment in time, but it is clear that United need to be seeking players who are much better in similar positions. Pereira has largely played as a number ten this season and has Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata to compete with.

During the 2018/19 season, Mata had a 32% shooting accuracy from 19 shots, getting six on target and scoring three goals. He also managed two assists. In the current season, Mata has a 25% shooting accuracy from four shots, getting one on target – having not yet scored a goal. When you look at Lingard for the 2018/29 season, he had a 44% shooting accuracy from 32 shots, getting 14 on target and scoring four goals, getting two assists. This season though, he has a 0% shot accuracy from five shots.

The main problem for Pereira is that he is not a winger, has struggled when playing in the central midfield position and although there has been improvement when playing as a number ten, a position he largely played at academy level, United can do so much better. When Paul Pogba is fit again, as ultimately he will, the likelihood of him playing in the midfield will be slim based on the performances of Scott McTominay and Fred this season, at least so far.

Pogba will most likely slot into the number ten role, as he did under Mourinho, which did, to be fair, see him as a coordinations creativity player, a goalscorer and a player able to assist goals. In his first season back in the Premier League (2016/17), Pogba has a 35% shot accuracy, having 92 shot with 32 on target, scoring five goals and assisting four more. During the 2017/18 season, Pogba had a 24% shot accuracy, having 76 shots with 18 on target, scoring six goals and assisting ten.

Last season (2018/19), Pogba had his best season at the club. His shot accuracy stood at 48%, having 105 shots on goal, 50 of them being on target – scoring 13 goals with a further nine assists. This is the type of performance that Pereira will need to match in order to keep his place in the team. Pogba would be the best player in the team to play in this position, which will see Pereira’s career enter a cul-de-sac and might even end his United career. It’s time to step up like a true professional.

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