Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho expressed disappointment last summer when young midfield talent Andreas Pereira opted to take what seemed like the easy route and leave on loan rather than stay at Old Trafford and fight for his place.

But fast forward 11 months from his temporary switch to Valencia and 22-year-old Pereira is now staking a strong claim to start United's opening game of the new Premier League season.


A lack of many other options in midfield during pre-season has forced Mourinho to give Pereira, who spent the campaign before last on loan with Granada, a big chance to prove himself.

Much to the delight of supporters, he seems to be making the most of it after a polished display in the latest tour friendly, a 1-1 draw against AC Milan. Showing great maturity, he then stepped up first and scored twice in a marathon penalty shootout that United won 9-8.

After missing just three La Liga games for a relegated Granada in 2016/17, Pereira had the chance to try and establish himself at United. Instead, he defied Mourinho to return to Spain, but the Belgian-born Brazilian stands by that decision and feels it was beneficial to him overall.


"I spoke with [Mourinho] about [going on loan last year] and now this season I want to stay and do my best for the club. I feel a better player now than last year," he said in a recent press conference.

His chance to prove it was the right decision and make that next step is now here.

Experienced star Nemanja Matic is yet to play since his late arrival on the summer tour after competing at the World Cup with Serbia and has now picked up a training injury that will be a setback in his fitness building ahead of the new season.

New signing Fred has not yet reported for duty, even though he never made it off Brazil's bench at the World Cup. Given that his only football since mid-May was nine minutes of an international friendly against Croatia, Mourinho may actually think twice about throwing the £50m man in at the deep end given that Pereira has emerged as a legitimate alternative.


The fact that Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Marouane Fellaini are almost certain to miss at least the opening game against Leicester after staying at the World Cup until the final weekend only strengthens Pereira's claim for a starting place against Leicester two weeks on Friday.

If he gets one game under his belt, who knows what might happen thereafter...