Joel Pereira needs to start fulfilling his potential

Portuguese goalkeeper, Joel Pereira has been at the club for nearly six years now and has yet to make a serious impact at the club. As he enters an important part of his career, it’s about time he starts making some serious waves at Manchester United or his time at the club could be limited.

The 21-year-old joined United in 2012 after being touted as a future star from Swiss side Neuchatel Xamax. He has risen through the ranks at Old Trafford, the pinnacle coming as he won the under-21 Development League title in 2015 along with players such as Adnan Januzaj and James Wilson both players with senior appearances for United.

After signing an extended contract at Old Trafford in the summer of 2015, he was then loaned out to League One side Rochdale to gain a bit of first-team football. After spending six months at Rochdale and making a good impression in the eight games he played for them he returned to Old Trafford and got his first senior call-up a month later. Unfortunately, he was an unused substitute in the 5-1 win over FC Midtjylland in the Europa League, and that would be the only call up he would get that season.

Since then, the 21-year-old has struggled the make an impact under Mourinho and was loaned out again at the start of the 2016/17 season to Portuguese team Belenenses. However, he only made eight appearances for the Primeira League side, as he returned to Manchester, after then third choice keeper Sam Johnstone was loaned out to Aston Villa.

Coincidently his return would mark his first senior appearance for United when he came on as an 80-minute substitute in United’s 4-0 FA Cup win over Wigan. He then started the Red’s final league game of last season against Crystal Palace where Pereira kept a clean sheet. He has only made one senior appearance since then, which came in United’s 4-1 victory over Burton Albion in the EFL Cup.

However, the lack of appearances has not seemed to deter the Portuguese under-21 international, as last summer he signed a new four-year-deal keeping him at Old Trafford until 2021.

Pereira stated recently that he is very happy at United and is clearly relishing the chance to work underneath two international goalkeepers.

“As the number three, I have two top goalkeepers in front of me, and they help me a lot too.

“They have lots of experience and they can help me with that. Obviously, I have a manager who has helped me so much and has always been by my side. I’m learning a lot so I am happy where I am.”

Although he may be happy where he currently is, as he is still learning and plying his trade at United, the fact he has 2 top international goalkeepers in front of him limits his chances somewhat. There isn’t a chance he is going to become United’s number one anytime soon as United have the best goalkeeper in the world currently in the net at Old Trafford, but the number two spot could be something that the 21-year-old could possibly aim for.

He might be able to gain some more game time in the cup competitions, so this summer’s pre-season could prove to be a very important one for Pereira and his future at Old Trafford. Nevertheless, the boss still has huge faith in him even stating recently he can become ‘the best Portuguese keeper of the next generation’.

Written by Dan Pearce

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