There can indeed be a sense of eternal purgatory for young, unestablished players in a José Mourinho team. Kevin De Bruyne felt it, as did Juan Cuadrado and Tomas Kalas in their times at Chelsea when Mourinho opted for perhaps less talented but more trustworthy players in their positions. Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw could argue that their careers are experiencing a forever ongoing purgatorial assessment at Manchester United to gain the trust of their manager. Mourinho has defended himself previously citing the forty nine players (to that point) to whom he had given debuts.
Andreas Pereira announced this week that he will return to Manchester United next season having spent successive loan spells in La Liga with Granada and then Valencia. Pereira, a dynamic 22 year-old capable of playing in a midfield three or as a number ten, defied Mourinho last season by choosing to return to La Liga where he believed he would get more game time. Pereira is unlikely to have been first choice in Manchester last season but would likely have seen increased game time during Paul Pogba’s early season absence and provided further midfield options when young players like Scott McTominay needed to be drafted in.
Mourinho’s track record with young talent is underwhelming, despite his claims of giving many debuts. Unlike other managers, Mourinho has often chosen to sign established talent rather than mould young players in his desired image. Those to whom Mourinho has chosen to given opportunities (think McTominay at Manchester United, or Kurt Zouma at Chelsea) have been with a view to snubbing underperforming players (in this example; Paul Pogba and John Terry, respectively).
Having defied Mourinho last season, is there a chance Pereira will return to a packed United midfield and fail to see game time? There is definitely a chance. What Pereira provides however is an additional option in midfield to unlock teams that isn’t Marouane Fellaini’s route one approach. Pereira told the press this week that Mourinho has promised him game time next season. Furthermore, Pereira has been riding high on his potential tag for many years and perhaps now it is time for Pereira to prove himself at the club where he made his debut in 2014.
Pereira should understand that opportunities will arise for him throughout the year at Manchester United. Despite his critics, Mourinho has guided some of the worlds best midfielders with skill sets similar to Pereira - players such as Wesley Sneijder and Mezut Özil - and guided them to great success.
José Mourinho often takes derision for not blooding young talent but Pereira should appreciate the fact that there is one thing Mourinho does reward: hard work. Jesse Lingard’s career has thrived under Mourinho in the past two seasons to the point where he is an England World Cup starter. Ashley Young’s Manchester United career looked over in August 2016 when the club were open to offers for the former Aston Villa winger. Both Lingard and Young have grafted for their places and Mourinho has rewarded both with regular starting berths, which has in turn led to great success for both on the international stage.
If Andreas Pereira puts in the type of performances that he put in for Granada away to Barcelona in 2016 when the media swooned over his play at the Camp Nou, he will see success at Old Trafford. Pereira is a fantastic player with great talent, though it would be wise of the young Brazilian to not fall into the pitfalls of Adnan Januzaj and Luke Shaw believing talent alone is enough. Should Pereira return to Manchester United and put in the fight required of him his manager, he will be undoubtedly be rewarded, as will the fans keen for him to succeed.