To anyone who followed Manchester United on their pre-season tour of America this summer, or who keeps track of the youth talent coming through the ranks at the club, Andreas Pereira is a player who needs no introduction.
Prior to this season, The Brazilian had made a handful of substitute appearances for the Red Devils and even scored during United’s aforementioned tour.
However, it is on the Under-21 scene that the 19-year-old has really proven his worth, and last season he was named as United’s Under-21 Player of the Year in their title-winning campaign.
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Having trained with the first-team and worked with Louis van Gaal for a number of months now, Pereira was handed his first competitive start for United in their 3-0 victory over Ipswich Town on Wednesday night and he didn’t disappoint.
He played the full 90 minutes of the Capital One Cup tie and produced the match’s one real moment of quality with a brilliantly struck free-kick. This provided United fans with a glimpse of what they should come to expect from him in the future.
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Pereira started the game on left-hand side of an attacking trio behind striker Wayne Rooney, but he was never out of the game for too long.
He proved that he can play with both feet, showing good skill and ability when in possession, and that he wasn’t afraid to shoot. Constantly twisting and turning away from his opponents, the youngster generally released the ball at the right time and displayed some good acceleration.
Despite it being his first start for the senior side Pereira was far-from-short of confidence and often tried to make runs in behind Ipswich’s defence to support captain Rooney, and linked up well with Ashley Young down United’s left flank.
Along with Mata, Pereira was given the responsibility for the majority of United’s set-pieces and he vindicated this with some decent crosses, but none more so than with his 20-yard curling free-kick to put United 2-0 up and give them some breathing space in the game.
Pereira worked tirelessly throughout the entire game and deserved his goal.
Pereira is just 19-years-old so it goes without saying that he isn’t the finished article yet and still needs to develop and improve. At times against Ipswich he was guilty of trying to do it all on his own, though that was largely due to his eagerness to impress rather and greed.
As he strives to become a more complete player it’s clear that the defensive side of his game needs some work, but let’s not forget that Pereira is an attacking midfielder - he shouldn’t be overly concerned with his defensive capabilities at this stage.
The competition for places in United’s attacking midfield positions is very high and, therefore, it will be hard for Pereira to get regular game time in his preferred no. 10 role.
While there's little doubt that he could one day end up in that role just behind the striker, for now he must be content with plying his trade in the wider areas.
Like Pereira, there are many other young attackers, from summer signings Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial, to fellow Academy product James Wilson, looking to become household names at Old Trafford, so the Brazilian must bide his time.
When someone of the calibre of talented Belgian Adnan Januzaj is allowed to leave on loan, it truly shows people just how tough it is to break into United’s first-team as a youngster and establish yourself within the squad.
He might play the odd Under-21 match here and there over the course of this season, but there’s no doubt that Pereira is now a full member of the senior squad. He is widely considered to be the most talented player to come out of United’s youth system for many years and if he continues on his current path the Brazilian will become a star for United and one of football’s biggest names.
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