There is an argument that Manchester United currently have the best set of goalkeepers in world football.
After all, the imperious David de Gea looks set to remain at the club, while in Argentina international Sergio Romero they have a more than capable backup.
Furthermore, Sam Johnstone has returned to Old Trafford following a successful loan spell at Aston Villa.
It is easy to forget, therefore, that Portugal U21 goalkeeper Joel Pereira is also on the Red Devils’ books.
The Swiss-born shot-stopper -who switched international codes six years ago- is said to be rated extremely highly by those inside Old Trafford and his potential appears to have been recognised by numerous Spanish and Italian top-flight clubs.
A report in ESPN FC followed up citations in the Spanish press that United had received several enquiries concerning Pereira.
Real Betis, Sevilla and Real Sociedad all hold an interest in the 21-year-old and are hopeful of securing a season-long loan deal. In Italy, Torino, Atalanta and Fiorentina are said to be monitoring the situation.
All six clubs are of similar calibre -either in or competing to qualify for the Europa League- and that the goalkeeper has generated such interest is a strong indicator of the esteem in which he is held.
The Portuguese has garnered a reputation for being a flexible shot-stopper in the mould of de Gea, but unlike United’s number one, he also frequently comes off his line and can act in a sweeper-keeper role.
Such attributes are perhaps more similar to Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer, with his weakness appearing to be his ability for long-range distribution.
Previous loan spells
Pereira has made just three first team appearances for the Red Devils; a 10-minute substitute appearance against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup Fourth Round in January 2017, and a Premier League debut on the last day of 2016/17 season against Crystal Palace, before appearing against Burton Albion in the EFL Cup last September.
In 2016, he enjoyed a loan spell at Lisbon-based Belenenses in Portugal’s top flight, while as a teenager he spent time with League One Rochdale.
He impressed in both spells, but due to circumstances beyond his control -Johnstone’s loan move to Villa- his spells were disrupted and he had relatively swift returns to Old Trafford.
Officials at Old Trafford will, no doubt, be keen for Pereira to garner more first-team experience in a top-flight, similarly to namesake, but no relation, Andreas, the Brazilian midfielder who has spent time on loan at both Granada and Valencia in Spain.
Jose Mourinho may be particularly attentive to the goalkeeper’s development due to his situation within the Portugal set-up, while it remains unclear if Romero’s stint at United will be long-term.
A move away this season could be the perfect opportunity for Pereira to continue his development and it is not improbable that, one day, he can be de Gea’s long-term successor with the Red Devils.
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