Manchester United brought in three high-profile summer signings, but the team are crying out for a new holding midfielder. While United may well have to splash more cash to solve the issue in 2022, there could be another solution hiding under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s nose.
Solskjaer currently has Fred, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay to play at the base of his midfield, while Donny van de Beek and Paul Pogba can also play there.
But the club’s recent results have suggested that, despite signing Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane over the summer, they still have a missing piece in their side.
United were beaten 2-1 by Swiss side Young Boys in their opening Champions League game of the season on Tuesday.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s red card saw Solskjaer make several substitutions to try and manage the game, but to little effect.
Jesse Lingard, who came on as a substitute, made a terrible mistake with an under-hit back-pass to give Young Boys the winner and prompt questions about United’s problems.
Many fans believe United need to sign a holding midfielder, with West Ham’s Declan Rice a popular choice among supporters.
However, Rice is under contract with the Hammers until June 2024 and the club value him at around £100million.
That could prevent any transfer to Old Trafford in the near future, meaning cheaper alternatives could be very useful for the United hierarchy.
Solskjaer, technical director Darren Fletcher and football director John Murtough might therefore have one eye on Andreas Perreira’s development.
Pereira spent last season on loan with Lazio and has now moved temporarily to Flamengo in Brazil.
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The 25-year-old is typically deployed as an attacking midfielder, but he has been given a new lease of life in a deeper role under manager Renato Portaluppi recently.
“He’s versatile, he’s a player I talked to even before I arrived at Flamengo,” said Portaluppi.
“He’s a player who has been tested in various positions for his quality. But he told me that he likes to play as a second defensive midfielder.
“So, this is where I’ve been putting him, in this position he’s been helping us, he’s been playing well.
“He’s playing in his position, in the position he likes. He’s a player who knows how to defend, knows how to attack too, he has the quality to do so.
“That’s what I said, he is a player who is above average. Without a doubt, it was a great signing for Flamengo.”
Whether Pereira has a future at United remains to be seen, but it is certainly an interesting development for United to keep an eye on.