In our weekly Scout feature, Daniel Roberts takes a detailed look at a new emerging talent from world football. In today’s edition, Sampdoria’s 18-year-old full-back Pedro Pereira is in the spotlight.
Born in Lisbon, Pereira, who turned 18 last week, joined the youth system of GDR Afeiteira in 2007 before being snapped up by Benfica just a year later.
Nicknamed the ‘Arrow of Lisbon’, Pereira originally started out as a winger with blistering pace before the Lisbon club decided to retrain the youngster into an attacking right-back. After seven successful years at the club, which saw him represent Portugal at Under-15, Under-16 and Under-17 levels, Italian giants Sampdoria parted with €190,000 in July to take him to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
Initially signed by the Serie A club for their U21 squad, an impressive pre-season campaign saw him start the season on the fringes of the first team. Occupying the bench in the first two games of the season, he made an unexpected debut when Mattia Cassani was forced off injured after 21 minutes of Sampdoria’s third match of the campaign, helping his side earn a 2-0 victory over Bologna. He marked the occasion by declaring: “This start is a dream come true.”
Equally adept on either flank, appearing in the left-back birth against Fiorentina, Pereira has made nine appearances in Serie A, completing 642 minutes so far. The 6ft tall defender has great strength and impressive attacking skills, fuelled by his rapid pace and crossing skills. Despite his young age, he has shown great maturity and temperament.
He is the youngest player in the five major European leagues to have registered an assist this seaosn, coming in the draw against Inter Milan.
What the experts say?
Riccardo Pecini, Sampdoria sporting director of youth: “He’s out of the ordinary. It was not easy to think that he would fit in so quickly. His discovery was the result of scouting, not through suggestions. We saw him with the Portuguese Under-17s, and then we followed him at his club. Once we realised that we could take him from Benfica, we moved immediately.”
What He Says About His Future
“I want to be like Real Madrid full-back Danilo. I think I have to improve in all aspects of the game. My strengths are that I’m explosive and I have a good timing for crossing, but I have to keep on training and do it even better.”
Where Does the Future Lie?
After an impressive six months at Sampdoria, interest is already high in Pereira, with admirers in both the Premier League and Serie A.
Unlikely Premier League title contenders Leicester City have been heavily linked, with reports suggesting a £7million bid has been lodged in a bid to bolster their squad. It has also been suggested the deal could see Yohan Benalouane head the other way in a money-plus-player deal.
However, they will face stiff competition from Italian giants Juventus, who have also been credited with huge interest. The Old Lady’s scouts, Giuseppe Marotta and Fabio Paratici have been reported to believe that Pereira can become one of the best right-backs in world football over the coming years, and have encouraged their employers to bring the talented youngster to their club.
Regardless of his current club future, Pereira has all the potential to become a huge name in the footballing world in years to come and it won’t be long until he’s donning the colours of one of the major clubs in European football.
Daniel Roberts – @djroberts22