‘If you’re good enough, you’re old enough’
Words that match the philosophy of Manchester United, a club famously renowned for its nurturing of young talent. The way in which they are refined and perfected is second to none, exposing the timid prodigies to first team football at the right time is a regular activity in the United ranks.
Look at Ronaldo for instance, when he joined from Sporting Lisbon, at times he looked like a baby giraffe. It was as if he wasn’t in complete control of his limbs, not to mention he was weak and lacked a sufficient end product. Nonetheless, he left as the best player in the word – completely and utterly flawless. There wasn’t an element of his game that could be criticised, a beautifully rounded player. Although Ronaldo didn’t spend time in the youth ranks, his success was down to the managerial excellence at United. The likes of Paul Pogba, Ravel Morrison and Adnan Januzaj are all additional examples of the exceptional players to come through the youth project. The conveyor-belt of talent isn’t stopping anytime soon, more talented youngsters are finely tuned and tweaked ahead of a promising career. The latest – Andreas Pereira.
Pereira joined from Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven in 2011, and signed professional terms with United at the start of 2013 after turning 17. The Brazilian born, Belgium international has been the stand out performer in a strong Under-18′s side. Recently, the 17-year-old has been given the chance to climb up the footballing ladder; featuring in the Under-21′s squad and unsurprisingly, excelling every time he’s featured.
“For next season, I would like to prepare for an experience with the first team. If I can achieve that, my year will be a success.”
His ability to consistently perform at such a high level has drawn comparisons to fellow Belgian, Adnan Januzaj. Pereira’s exceptional balance, awareness and technical ability gives him the edge over all his peers, exactly the same as Januzaj. There’s no reason why the 17-year-old can’t emulate his success, some players are just made for the big time – Pereira is one of them.
Pereira plays in rather forward role, operating just behind the striker, allowing him to be inventive and creative. Often you’ll see him threading through some intricate passes to cut through the opposition defence, his vision and understanding of the game is brilliant. He’s not a player to shy away from the ball, with confidence he frequently he drops back into a deeper role to get on the ball, bringing the play forward with tempo.
These are just two instances to emphasise the youngsters natural talent, and the undeniable confidence that’s in his game. A lot of young players in both of these situations would perhaps look for the simple pass, not Pereira. Completely surrounded by players, he still manages to pull off two magnificent through balls in an area which seemed far from threatening. Passing, and the importance of possession are factors that are being integrated more and more into today’s game, the 17-year-old is perfectly capable of playing any type of ball; whether it be a through ball or a 50 yard pass.
What makes Pereira so threatening is his unpredictability, you don’t quite know what’s coming. Evidently, he’s deadly when he runs forward with the ball; but the real danger lies in his shooting, and his capabilities from dead ball situations. The 17-year-old is perfectly capable of scoring from any range, on either foot. The screenshot above shows you a magnificent goal he scored against Burnley’s Under 18′s not too long ago, a thunderbolt straight into the top corner. Moreover, Pereira’s free kicks always prove to be problematic. If there’s one awarded on the edge of the box, there’s a high chance he’ll curl it elegantly into the top corner.
As I said earlier, Pereira likes to pick up the ball from a deeper role and drive forward with it; reminiscent of someone like Jack Wilshere. His nimble and small physique allows him to glide in and out of challenges with ease, he makes it seem so effortless. People compare Pereira to Januzaj, but if you watch him closely, he’s a completely different player. He’s much quicker on and off the ball, his flamboyance and pace whilst dribbling proves to be a very strong point in his game. Technically, he’s not as good; but the youngster has a lot more time to develop.
“It is very positive that the media thinks I’m going the same way as Januzaj. Then again, I do not see myself as his successor, I’m not doing that.”
He of course needs more time to develop, but youngsters who show this much potential at such a young age make it [nine times out of ten.] If he continuous to flourish the way he has since arriving, you’ll be seeing the Belgium in United’s first team squad in a year or two. A talent who I’m extremely excited to see in the future, hopefully he’ll live up to my high expectations.