Andreas Pereira has already made significant strides since returning to Manchester United from successive loan spells in Spain.
The midfielder was one of the shining lights in pre-season and, while his appearances have been limited so far this campaign, he has received regular praise from Jose Mourinho.
We recently sat down with our no.15 to discuss a number of topics – including his memories of the Academy and how Spain shaped him as a person…
It’s been a fascinating journey for you at United – from the youth team to the Under-23s to going out on loan to the first team. If you cast your mind back to when you first joined, who were the biggest influences for you at the time and what were your thoughts when joining the club?
“For me, it was something very, very special. When I first joined the club when I was 16, I remember it like it was yesterday – the first time I came to the training ground and saw everyone around, it was very special for me.”
Are there any games that stand out for you from your early days at the club?
“I remember quite a few. In my first game with the Under-18s, it rained so much that we had to stop the game and, of course, I remember the finals when we played in the Reserves when we won the league, so it was very memorable.”
You quickly got into the Under-23s set-up. When you joined that group, who were you listening to and who was in your ear at that time?
“I played a lot in that team with Adnan [Januzaj] because I was close friends with him and the manager Warren Joyce helped me a lot. It was very good for me to learn from those kinds of players who were playing with me, and especially Warren Joyce because he helped me a lot. It was different types of things that I wasn’t used to, especially like running a lot and he made me very strong mentally, so I’m very thankful [to him].”
You played in a number of positions in the Academy. Looking back now, how much has that helped you now?
“I think it’s very good because I’m a versatile player – I can play anywhere on the pitch and I can understand how the players have to run, so it helps me a lot. Even if I’m not playing in the position, I know what the right-winger has to do, what the midfielder has to do because I’ve played in these positions.”
Are there any specific games that stand out from your time in the Under-23s?
“I liked the game we played away at Liverpool – I think it was a semi-final when I scored in a 1-0 win. The game against Tottenham when we won the league with the Reserves when [Guillermo] Varela scored a last-minute goal [to clinch a 3-2 win], which was a very special one. There are a lot of games, especially with the Reserves, when we won in the last minute.”
Your first-team debut came in the League Cup in 2014. It must have been great for you to get on the pitch for the first team…
“Yes, it was a very special moment for me. We lost the game [at MK Dons] but for me it was very special to wear the first-team kit for the first time.”
You made your Premier League debut against Tottenham Hotspur in March 2015. What was the occasion like?
“I was a bit nervous, to be fair. [It was] my first time at Old Trafford in a Premier League game, I came on and we were winning the game, but still I was a bit nervous. In the first five minutes, I was just looking around the crowd but, after that, I became calm and played. I didn’t get much involved but I was very happy.”
You had two spells in Spain with Granada and Valencia. How much have they helped to shape the player you are now?
“It was very important for me, the two loans. I think I’ve totally changed after the two loans – I’m more mature, playing like an adult. I think I really grew up into football over there. I think they really helped me and I think if I stayed here I wouldn’t have had the progression that I had when I went on loan, so I think it helped me a lot.”
It must have helped you off the pitch too because you were in a different country and fended for yourself…
“Yes, it’s different so I was living on my own and doing everything on my own. The people here at the club always took good care of me, they called to see if I was good. But still it’s different in a different country. For me, I speak Portuguese but still in the first year, I had to adapt to speaking Spanish. But it was good for me, I got stronger from it, I’m more of an all-round player and I’m more ready to play now.”
You played more out wide during your time in Spain and came back to play very centrally at United. What’s that transition been like for you?
“I always normally play in midfield but in Spain I was playing more on the left than on the right wing. Now that I’m back in midfield, the transition for me is normal because I’ve always been a midfielder, so it’s been quite easy for me. But, of course, I will play anywhere the manager wants. If he wants me to play in the midfield role, I’ll play there. If it’s on the wing, I’ll play on the wing.”
We saw during pre-season how much faith the manager has put in you. That must give you so much confidence?
“Yes, I’m very confident and very happy that the manager gave me this opportunity. I just want to show him and all of the staff and the players what I can do and help the team.”
We also saw your maturity in pre-season – that’s one of the aspects of your game that has changed the most from us not seeing you that much in Spain. Has that been one of the biggest changes for you?
“Yes, I think I changed a lot. I’m more mature, I’m making fewer mistakes, I’m more consistent than I was before, so hopefully I can keep this up and be more consistent in every game.”