The international break came at the worst time for football fans but for Jose Mourinho it feels like a blessing in disguise. His apparent unhappiness at goings on at Manchester United were beginning to upset supporters. The drip feed of stories to his close friends in the media about considering his future appears far too convenient. Was it a classic Mourinho move to distract attention from his loss at Chelsea or him suffering from itchy feet yet again?
Whatever the motive is behind this unrest it doesn’t appear to be something which the fans are blindly accepting. Maybe because we’ve seen this song and dance before, a bit like the boy who cried wolf. There is justified criticism aimed at Mourinho and a few ‘I might leave’ lines aren’t going to save him from accepting that. At a club as big as United, there is nowhere to hide.
In order to challenge local rivals Manchester City, Mourinho wants more funds available in January. This is on top of the £300m plus he’s already spent in his 18 months at United. According to those close to Mourinho he feels without further investment they can’t compete at the top. A damning verdict on his current squad and those in charge of bringing players in. Hardly a rallying battle cry, is it?
Pereira’s fine performances on loan aren’t going unnoticed
If funds are indeed limited then Mourinho might need to look at those out on loan as reinforcements. No one stands out more than Andreas Pereira. Currently at Valencia CF, he could perhaps add something different to the midfield. In the absence of Paul Pogba and the poor form of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, it makes the decision to let him go appear a poor one.
It’s important to remember that Mourinho was against Pereira leaving at the end of the summer transfer window. If you want to challenge on all fronts you need a strong squad. Pereira had a wonderful stint at Granada and playing week in, week out was important to his development. To go back to an extremely limited role would be a waste of his talent.
When Valencia enquired about Pereira’s availability there was no doubt in the mind of the player. After failing to make the squad for UEFA Super Cup he then sat out all three of the opening Premier League matches. That was enough for Pereira to believe his options at United wouldn’t match his own ambitions for the season and he sought a move elsewhere.
At Valencia, Pereira is a key member of the squad
The decision is already vindicated when you see Pereira has featured in all of Valencia’s matches so far this season. While it’s true he isn’t first choice, he is definitely a key squad member. There’s no sign of frustration at making cameo appearances as Pereira is playing for a coach that he knows believes in him. That’s something I don’t think he would say about Mourinho right now despite the two having a solid relationship.
Reports in both Spain and the UK have suggested that Mourinho is keen on cutting short Pereira’s stay at Valencia. He wants to reinvigorate his attacking options. The lack of supply to Romelu Lukaku, in the absence of Pogba, is something he needs to address. Pereira’s ability on the ball could be a useful option to call upon.
Under Marcelino there’s a marked improvement in Pereira’s game
In his time with Granada we saw Pereira adopt a more central role just behind the striker. At Valencia he is predominantly deployed as a wide man. He regularly comes on to exploit the tired legs of the opposing full-back. Pereira’s trickery and crossing is just another weapon in Valencia’s arsenal.
In his two and a bit months with Los Che he’s already got as many assists (3) as he did in the whole of last season with Granada.
While United are capable of playing good football, it makes a difference if you have players who can provide crosses for your main striker. Antonio Valencia, and to a lesser extent Ashley Young, can provide that width but Pereira would offer a greater cutting edge. For example, his cross for Rodrigo Moreno’s winning goal at the weekend was superb.
When he was at Granada, a team without any real direction, Pereira was guilty of being too selfish and greedy. It was a collection of individuals trying to do it all on their own. Under Marcelino’s guidance we are seeing Pereira get his head up more, look at the options available to him before making a decision. We’re seeing a player who is desperate to learn and improve, which can only benefit United in the long term.
Would a move back to United be a wise decision?
It’s hard to see an upside to a January return for the player. The issues he faced at the start of the season would still exist. When Pogba is available and everyone is fit, you fail to see where Pereira would play. To spend six months as a bit-part option would be a huge waste. It’d also probably force the player to seek a permanent move away.
In many ways, he’s in a similar situation to follow loanee at Valencia Goncalo Guedes. The level of performances whilst on loan is making their parent sides take notice and plan for next season with them in the squad. United could feasibly move on Juan Mata or Mkhitaryan freeing up a route to the first team for Pereira. In the same context at PSG, Angel Di Maria or Julien Draxler might be sold and replaced by the impressive Guedes.
A January return is, at present, unlikely
The player is unlikely to want a return in January. Valencia are in a strong position and would hate to lose a key squad member. Even more so as they are unlikely to be able to bring in someone of a similar quality to replace him.
The feeling at the moment in Valencia is that United won’t look to bring Pereira back in January. Peter Lim’s strong relationship with the English club, as well as Mourinho, further aids their case.
According to sources at United they don’t plan on paying the fee to break the loan agreement either. The only stipulation for Pereira returning for free is if he didn’t play in a certain percentage of matches. And as previously stated, he’s appeared in every game so far.
Quite what the future holds for Pereira remains to be seen but it appears he’ll see out the season with Valencia. After that he’ll need to re-evaluate his options in the summer. If he continues to perform as he has then United won’t be short of suitors if they decide to cash in. Or they could save themselves some money and offer Pereira the minutes he needs to develop.