Player Focus: Andreas Pereira

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When Andreas Pereira was signed from Manchester United in the summer, some questioned if the club were getting a Premier League cast-off who wouldn’t bring enough to the table to justify a reported £10 million price tag. With more than a third of the season played, it’s become clear it was money well spent. 

Andreas has been a pivotal cog in the Marco Silva Machine at Craven Cottage, establishing himself as the team’s chief creator since his arrival. His four assists is only bettered by three others in the league, while he ranks third for key passes per 90 minutes. Incidentally, his 2.4 is 0.2 better than the man playing the same role at his former club, Bruno Fernandes.

It’s arguable that his quality should never have been in question. This is after all, a player who has spent more than ten years under contract at one of the biggest clubs in world football. And while he may not have ever fully established himself at Old Trafford, his loan spells have shown signs of the ability the Brazilian possesses. In 2016 Andreas took in a loan spell in La Liga, for a struggling Granada side. Despite being unable to help them avoid relegation, he contributed five goals to the cause from midfield.

Those displays convinced Valencia to extend his temporary stay in Spain. Andreas’ season was disrupted by an achilles injury, but before it intervened, he was having an positive impact, recording four assists and a goal in his first 16 appearances for Los Che. His 23 outings helped Valencia secure a top-four finish, and return to the Champions League, having ended the previous term 12th in La Liga.

The following two seasons he tried to secure his place in the line up of his parent club, but despite making Premier League 18 starts across the 2019-2020 season, he was back out on loan for the following two campaigns. During one of these Silva tried to bring him to Fulham, but the club’s status in the Championship proved prohibitive. Once it became apparent that Fabio Carvalho’s departure to Liverpool would mean a need for a new no. 10, Silva returned to the Brazilian with the attraction of Premier League football.

Andreas may have replaced the Portuguese wonder kid, but the two are different players. Carvalho’s goal contributions came from finishing moves off, arriving in the penalty area to score in clinical fashion, while his Brazilian replacement spends far less time in enemy territory, preferring to provide the passes that lead to goals from the space in front of the penalty area, or from dead ball scenarios, another mantle he has claimed and something his predecessor was not as well-versed in.

The Whites were one of the most effective teams from set-pieces in The Championship last season and Andreas has only enhanced the threat from such situations. Pereira has led Fulham to fourth in the league for expected goals from set-pieces (5.15) and sixth for set-plays resulting in a shot at goal (51). His deliveries have led directly to four goals, and it’s fair to expect there to be more as the season progresses.

Arriving for the English preseason midway through the Brazilian season looks to have been an advantage too, with Andreas certainly hitting the ground running. In any other season, such a long period without a break could be a concern as he has played through the summer due to the Brazilian season commencing in January. But as we approach the winter World Cup, it becomes apparent that Andreas will have the opportunity to recharge his batteries before continuing his assault on the stats charts for creativity.

The break will be useful for a player who gets through a lot of work off of the ball too. Part of the reason Silva was so keen to acquire the playmaker’s services is that he is a willing presser. Fulham’s head coach preaches intensity out of possession, and Andreas brings that, often deployed as a second forward alongside Aleksandar Mitrovic when Fulham turn over the ball, to allow them to press in tandem to help win the ball back in the opponents half. Indeed his relationship with the Serbian has been a major plus point in what is shaping up to be a positive season for The Cottagers. Pereira has already created 14 chances for the clubs top scorer. Only the elite Kevin De Bruyne has created more chances overall.

Fulham are an attacking force, scoring the sixth most goals in the division, with Andreas a key component of that attack. Silva continues to show he has the ability to bring the best from players, and now Andreas has a long-term contract, first-team status and a manager who believes in him, the 26-year-old looks set to enjoy the prime years of his career, by the banks of The Thames.