Can Man Utd’s Pereira succeed where other Samba starlets have flopped?
Just over 12 months ago, Louis van Gaal named his first ever League Cup starting line-up, featuring the likes of now departed Anderson, Shinji Kagawa and Jonny Evans, in what eventually ended in a humiliating 4-0 defeat to MK Dons.
Entering at the third-round stage this season, there were only two survivors from that miserable night in Milton Keynes, one being David de Gea and the other Brazilian Under-20 international starlet Andreas Pereira.
It was the latter Belgium-born talent that stole the show in a comfortable 3-0 victory over Ipswich Town, lighting up Old Trafford on his first senior start with his maiden goal for the club, who are 11/2 with Coral to lift the Capital One Cup.
The 19-year-old captivated fans that had packed into Old Trafford to witness some fresh faces in their side’s line-up, and Pereira didn’t disappoint, perfectly curling a free-kick over the Tractor Boys’ wall into the top corner.
“I asked Juan [Mata] for the ball and he gave it to me. We work on it at the training ground and he trusted me,” stated Pereira.
“It is a relief for me that all the work I have put in has paid off. It was like a dream come true to score my first goal, a free-kick at the Stretford End as well.
“I want to keep progressing now. Last season was not so good when we went out at MK Dons but this is special. It helped that I have played at Old Trafford before [for reserves] but it was different also with a big crowd there.”
Despite his first goal coming during a maiden senior start, the Old Trafford faithful may be forgiven for not getting immediately overly excited about this new Samba starlet, with plenty of Brazil youngsters having flopped in the past. But can the latest prospect succeed where others have failed?
During the historic reign of Sir Alex Ferguson, many seemingly talented Brazilians arrived at the club, including Anderson, Kleberson, Rodrigo Possebon and of course, both Fabio and Rafael da Silva. Although, each of the previously promising South Americans followed an indifferent career path.
Surprisingly, it was Anderson that enjoyed the longest stint at the club, making 181 appearances over eight seasons, while full back Rafael was the last to depart, having been sent packing by Van Gaal this summer after seven senior years.
Anderson arrived from Porto in the summer of 2007 for around £17m with a big reputation of being a great driving force from midfield and possessing a creative left foot but, after a promising double-winning first term, he soon faded out.
Kleberson made a grand entrance in 2003, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, having previously helped Brazil amazingly clinch the 2002 World Cup in South Korea against Germany, but those international outings proved to be a flash-in-the-pan.
After two goals over two seasons, the World Cup-winning midfielder departed, while Possebon, a former Italy Under-20 international, started brightly but eventually departed after injury problems. Rafael’s twin brother Fabio, also adored by fans, joined his sibling by exiting in 2014 and rocking up at QPR, with both leaving behind them a bitter Brazilian reputation.
Pereira is the teenager ready to overturn that torrid trend, with the club’s youth product having learned his trade during time with PSV Eindhoven’s esteemed academy as well and shining for the Brazil Under-20s after representing Belgium from Under-15.
The teenage prodigy is set apart from previous flops Anderson, Kleberson and Possebon by the fact he has academy experience, having partly come through the ranks. Also, Van Gaal has genuine faith in the 19-year-old, something Rafael wasn’t given by the Dutchman when he took charge last year.
Pereira’s abilities were fine-tuned in the summer with Brazil, wehre he performed potently at the Under-20 World Cup and showcased his match-winning talents, something his chosen country’s senior set-up may come looking for at some point (9/1 to win 2018 WC).
With Van Gaal’s trust being rewarded in Pereira’s senior debut by a man of the match performance, topped-off by a superb set-piece strike, the future looks bright for this Brazil maestro, as he aims to become the first successful Samba star at Old Trafford.