Andreas Pereira has the potential to be a great player for Manchester United but his decision to leave the club on loan this summer, against Jose Mourinho’s wishes, was one the supporters thought he might regret.
Mourinho knew there would be playing time for the youngster this season and the past few months, when Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick have all been injured, would likely have seen him featuring fairly regularly for United.
But Pereira wanted to play every week so agreed to join Valencia on a season long loan. He plays most weeks in La Liga, although rarely for the 90 minutes, with him being subbed on or subbed off.
Still, the season is going well for him, with Valencia currently second in the table, six points ahead of champions Real Madrid.
“I wasn’t going to be a starting player at United this season,” he told ESPN this week. “I felt that by coming here I would play more minutes. By playing I’ll get better, I’ll evolve. That is better than being on the bench where I get frustrated and it starts to work against me. Here, I’m playing, I’m happy and I’m getting better. People see that, United see that, and it will help me, Valencia and Manchester United. If I go back then I’ll be a better player. I’m under pressure here, but in a positive way.”
What is interesting about this statement is the uncertainty the player has about whether he will return to United or not.
Pereira joined United from PSV Eindhoven when he was 15-years-old and has courted plenty of excitement in the years since. He has the makings of a quality player and is thriving under new manager Marcelino, who was appointed in the summer, as he completely changed the squad.
“He has given me a lot of confidence and I feel important in this team,” Pereira said of his new manager. “Marcelino tells me what I have to do. He is the one that has created all of this, this great environment. All that we are achieving is because he has built this group. He is a great coach. He tells us with clarity what one in particular has to do as well as what the team has to do at a given moment.”
With one goal and three assists for Pereira, he’s playing his part in Valencia’s turnaround this season. Last year they finished 12th in the table, so to find themselves unbeaten, and just four points behind Barcelona, is an incredible achievement.
While Mourinho can be stubborn, he isn’t going to turn down the opportunity to have a quality player in his team, even if Pereira did ignore his advice in the summer. The worry now will be whether Pereira wants to come back and play and squad role for United when he likely could play week in week out at a decent club.
If Valencia were to put in an offer for him and he wanted to stay there, United would have a real decision to make. Pereira’s contract expires in 2019 so if Mourinho couldn’t offer him decent playing time next season, United would run the risk of losing him on a free if they rejected any offers for him next summer. If they were to sell him at the end of this season, they could at least have some financial reimbursement for his departure.
However, after letting Paul Pogba get away, only to fork out a world-record transfer fee to bring him back to the club, United will be mindful of repeating the same mistake with Pereira.
The Belgian, of Brazilian descent, is still only 21-years-old and is developing nicely. They don’t want to be left red faced in a few years from now if Pereira is tearing it up for a big club in La Liga, the Premier League, or elsewhere.
However, Fellaini is looking ever more likely to leave in the summer, with Mourinho admitting on Friday he was worried the player wouldn’t extend his current deal which expires at the end of the season, there could be playing time for Pereira available in midfield. But will that be enough to convince Pereira to stay? Supporters will be hoping so.