Andreas Pereira Deserves his Chance at Manchester United

After a successful season-long loan spell in Spain with La Liga side Granada, Andreas Pereira returns to Manchester United having completed his intended objective. Part of one of the worst sides in recent La Liga history, Granada succumbed to relegation, finishing bottom of the table, earning just 20 points all season and winning only four times. Despite this, Pereira was their only stand-out performer and their over-reliance on him won most of the few points they accumulated.

From Manchester United’s and Pereira’s point of view, however, he did what he had to. He had his first season with a consistent run in the first team and performed in a way that was expected of him. In his 35 league appearances, he scored five goals, including a few sensational long-range strikes and free kicks and, rather uncharacteristically, a red card in a game against Real Betis. But what stands out the most from the last season is Granada’s dependence on him and how he made the most of the opportunity given to him.

In a below average side, Pereira was pivotal to them in two different positions. He started off the season as a winger, featuring on either flank, and ended it as a central midfielder after Tony Adams’ arrival at the club as manager. Central midfield is where his potential is most visible, having played there for Manchester United.

He ended the season as their highest goal scorer in La Liga, although that says more about the club than him, and he was also their most creative player. He created 52 chances—19% of the total chances created by the rest of the side (272)—and much to the delight of the Manchester United faithful, added more to his game by winning 27% of his tackles; sixth best in the side.

Statistics aside, he has proven that he is ready for first-team football in the Premier League. With over 2000 minutes of senior football in the bag against some of the world’s best clubs including Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid amongst others, he has certainly grown as a footballer and will find it easier to adapt with senior first-team expectations. It is tough to nail down a starting berth in a side which is rooted to the bottom of the table for most of the campaign, but Pereira has done that and it is a testament to his ability and growth over the last season.

The main question now is whether he can cut it into José Mourinho’s plans for the first-team next season. Both player and manager have expressed their admiration for one another and it is clear Mourinho has been impressed by the 21-year-old’s progress. He ticks all the boxes required to make it in the first team next season, the main one being the lack of depth in the same position Pereira is accustomed to occupying.

One of his last appearances in a red shirt came in a central midfield position in a friendly against Wigan Athletic; a role in which he was unfamiliar at the time, but grew into in his time away on loan. Mourinho has made it clear that he wants to add more options in that role, but aside from any potential signings, Pereira’s return is sure to provide another option and also one as a deep-lying playmaker, although it wouldn’t guarantee him a consistent run amongst the first eleven.

Due to his experience at Granada, he has shown off his capabilities on the ball, with his dribbling and agility, gaining a lot of plaudits over the year. He certainly has the right attributes to become a top midfielder higher up the pitch. He can take a man on with ease and at the same time track back and defend well enough, which creates an option in the role occupied by Paul Pogba.

If worked upon, he can provide a fine box-to-box option provided he works on his energy levels and the ability to survive the course of a gruelling, more physical 90 minutes of Premier League football.

There is no doubt that Pereira has what it takes to cut it at the highest level and it would be surprising, albeit fully justified, to see him go out on another loan spell in the transfer window. Whether he plays as a deep-lying playmaker, box-to-box or attacking midfielder is yet to be seen, but after his excellent spell at a very poor Granada side, it is clear that he finally deserves his chance with the Manchester United first team.

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