MATHEUS PEREIRA: SHOULD LIVERPOOL LOOK TO SWOOP?
Matheus Pereira made headlines today after releasing a statement on Twitter defending himself after his manager questioned his commitment whilst he also emphasised his desire to leave. The 25 year old West Brom winger has been left out of pre-season matches as The Baggies look to avoid an injury that could scupper a transfer.
He was one of The Baggies leading lights in the Premier League last season and it is widely accepted that he is too good to go back down to the Championship. West Brom rejected a £7million bid from Saudi champions Al-Hilal three weeks ago. It is reported that West Brom’s asking price is £20 – 25million for the winger who has extensively been linked to West Ham as an alternative to Jesse Lingard.
With Liverpool known to be in the market for a wide player, and not willing to spend silly money (£72.6million on Jadon Sancho for example), there have been links to cheaper alternatives. West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen has been linked, as has Wolves’ Adama Traore. You can find our articles on them, here:
Jarrod Bowen: All you need to know about new Liverpool target.
ADAMA TRAORE: All you need to know about rumoured Liverpool target.
We’ll take a similar deep dive on Pereira’s career so far, and carry out the research so you don’t have to. Let’s get into it.
The Brazilian moved to Portugal at a young age, joining Sporting CP’s youth system at the age of 14. Early into the 2015–16 season, Pereira was granted his debut by newly appointed manager Jorge Jesus on 1 October, as he started in a 1–1 draw at Beşiktaş in the UEFA Europa League. Later that month, he scored his first goals as a professional, in a 4-0 away win in the Taça de Portugal and a 5-1 home win in the UEFA Europa League. He hit 5 goals and an assist in 15 appearances in his breakthrough season.
He couldn’t kick on in the following season though, scoring one goal and providing three assists in just seven appearances as he struggled to get into the Sporting team. He was sent out on loan the next campaign, to fellow Primeira Liga club G.D. Chaves. He enjoyed an impressive season, scoring 8 goals, providing 6 assists and creating 60 chances in 31 appearances as the unfancied Chaves clinched a 6th placed finish. The 22 year old had made his mark and went back to Sporting hoping to become a mainstay.
Instead, he was left out again. His frustration was understandable and he made his feelings known when he criticised coach José Peseiro’s for not selecting him. Sporting didn’t take kindly to this and loaned him out to struggling German side FC Nürnberg on deadline day. It was a difficult period for the winger as Nürnberg finished bottom of the Bundesliga table and suffered relegation.
Pereira though, was nominated for the Rookie of the Year award after impressing in difficult circumstances. 3 goals and 2 assists in 21 matches was his record in Germany. He returned to Sporting after his loan spell but was soon sent out on another loan deal. This time, to Championship side West Bromwich Albion. He joined The Baggies on an initial season-long loan with an obligation to buy if a certain number of appearances was reached.
West Brom had found themselves an absolute bargain as the Brazilian set towards adjusting to the English culture and English game. He had the Brazilian flair, tricks and skills but also the mentality to survive the physical nature of the Championship. He was a threat from dead balls as well as open play, as his vision and understanding of space came to the fore. His quick feet and even quicker brain was powering West Brom all the way to Premier League qualification.
He finished the Championship season with the most assists (17) in the division and created a quite astonishing 132 chances for his teammates. He was crowned West Brom Supporters Player of The Year as The Baggies finished 2nd to seal promotion. His individual statistics made for great reading; 8 goals, 20 assists in 43 appearances. He had also triggered the clause in his contract that obligated West Brom to make his move permanent.
For just £7million, The Baggies had bagged themselves an exquisite talent from the shores of Brazil on a four year contract. Pereira had found himself a home and was finally going to stay at the same club for two straight years; something he hadn’t had in his career beforehand. Most attractive of all, he was heading to the best league in the world for a chance to show the world what he could do.
Pereira took to the Premier League like a duck to water. He scored his first goal in September, through a direct free kick in a 5–2 away defeat to Everton. The team suffered as they meandered towards relegation with Sam Allardyce brought in at the halfway juncture in a failed attempt to try and arrest the slide down the table. Pereira kept making his mark though and his highlight of the season came when he scored a brace in a 5–2 win at Chelsea to seal Albion’s first victory at Stamford Bridge since 1978.
In May, he scored his tenth goal of the season – becoming the first player to hit double digits since Saido Berahino in 2014–15 – but it amounted to nothing as his team lost 3–1 at Arsenal and confirmed their relegation. He was the highest scoring Brazilian in the Premier League, netting 11 goals to see him above more established names like Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, Willian, Richarlison etc.
In 35 appearances across all competitions, he scored 12 goals, provided 6 assists and laid on 69 chances. Pereira is a fantastic dribbler, great on the ball, has a lovely left-foot, and can turn defenders inside out with his silky skills. He is also a great crosser of the ball and is dangerous shooting from the edge of the box, evidenced by his five Premier League goals from outside the box.
He is definitely a talent and it is easy to see how he would fit in with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. He is versatile, having played on the right wing, left wing and in a central attacking midfielder role. Turning 25 in May, he’s also at the right age and fits the bill as being a rough diamond which could be polished into a world class operator.
As it stands, his head has been turned by the money on offer at Al-Hilal but a call from Jurgen Klopp will definitely see him jump at the chance to link up with fellow Brazilians Firmino, Fabinho and Alisson to challenge for the Premier League and Champions League. Whether this is a move the club will go for is doubtful as there haven’t been any real links. Nevertheless, with how silently the club moves in the market, it is one they could very much be considering.