Manchester United has a long-held tradition of giving youth a chance – from the ‘Busby Babes’ to the Class of 92’, United have always promoted youngsters to the first team if they are ready. This season Brazilian youth international Andreas Pereira must be hoping that his chance is now upon him.
Since being signed by Sir Alex Ferguson from PSV Eindhoven in January 2012, Pereira has been earmarked as the one who would most likely make the step-up to the first team after numerous impressive performances for both the Under-18s and Reserves.
Current Old Trafford manager Louis Van Gaal handed the creative midfielder his debut in United’s disastrous 4–0 away defeat to Milton Keynes Dons in the second round of the League Cup; a game that brought back memories of the shock 3-0 defeat to York City at the same stage in 1995. A few weeks later, Pereira went on to make his Premier League debut against Tottenham Hotspur, as a 77th-minute substitute for Juan Mata in a 3-0 win.
Although the Brazilian didn’t make another appearance for the first team, his form for the second-string resulted with him following in the footsteps of Darren Fletcher, John O’Shea and Giuseppe Rossi in being named the Reserve Team Player of the Year.
Pereira finally signed a new contract during the off-season, when United fans had feared another Paul Pogba-type situation developing. French champions Paris Saint-Germain offered to triple his wages to move to the French capital at the end of his contract, but after what seemed like an eternity the player signed a deal that would keep him at Old Trafford until at least June 2018.
It was an eventful summer as he took part in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand where he helped Brazil to the final. Pereira was one of the standout players at the tournament after scoring two goals which included a magnificent dribble and finish from the left-wing in the final versus Serbia. Unfortunately for the midfielder and Brazilians after a heart-breaking 2014 World Cup, it wasn’t enough as they lost to a 118th minute strike by Nemanja Maksimović to hand Serbia the crown for the first time.
Pereira then gave a superb account of himself on Manchester United’s pre-season tour of America with the youngster playing in all four of the friendlies, bagging his first senior United goal in the 3-1 win against San Jose Earthquakes.
In the games against the Earthquakes and Barcelona he played in the No. 10 role and wide left against Club America and Paris Saint-Germain, looking equally comfortable in both positions. His performances on the tour earned him a place on the bench in United’s Premier League opener versus Tottenham although he is yet to see any playing time this season.
With the Premier League season being so long and hard, the midfielder should be competing for the wide left and/or No. 10 spots with Ashley Young, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, new signing Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney – the former who now has added responsibility due to the lack of competition up front to score the goals.
That lack of attacking options at Van Gaal’s disposal and the departures of Ángel Di María and Adnan Januzaj to Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund respectively have opened up a navigable channel to become a first team player which he has a realistic chance of achieving.
Whatever happens during the season, Pereira should at least be guaranteed some cameo appearances and if he takes his chances well, an opportunity to become a first team regular at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’.