Joel Pereira faces a fight to reclaim his place in Hearts’ starting line up after getting dropped this week. The United loanee has been in this position before.
The Portuguese stopper paid the price for his howler in the 5-0 drubbing against Rangers on December 1st.
He had to look on from the bench as Hearts drew 1-1 against Livingston on Wednesday with third choice keeper Zdenek Zlamal preferred over him.
Pereira will be hoping that it was just one game to take him out of the limelight and he is restored against Motherwell on Saturday, but is his loan spell worryingly following a similar trajectory to last year?
A case of Deja vu?
It was ironically December 1st last year that Pereira was dropped from Portuguese side Vitoria Setubal after starting 8 consecutive league games.
The 23-year-old only made two more appearances after that where he shipped 7 goals before having his loan move cut short.
Pereira then joined Belgian outfit KV Kortrijk on January 31st, but didn’t make his first appearance since mid April. He we went on to feature a further four times.
The worry for United’s youngster is that he has to endure another period on the side-lines and he doesn’t get the game time to aid his development.
United will probably assess the situation and if Pereira hasn’t reclaimed his starting berth the club may use the January window to cut his season-long loan in Scotland short and then secure another move.
This the ultimate test of Pereira’s character, if he can come through this tough spell, re-establish himself as Hearts’ number one, then it will do wonders for his mental strength and development.
Pereira was an initial hit at Hearts. He filled in during an injury crisis and helped them reach the Scottish Cup semi-finals with penalty shootout heroics against Aberdeen.
However, he is playing in a side that is one point off the bottom of the table and managed just 2 wins from 15 games.
In 13 matches across all competitions this season, Pereira has conceded 23 goals. He only has 2 clean sheets to his name.
Does he have a future at United?
The Portuguese shot-stopper was once described by Jose Mourinho as “the best Portuguese goalkeeper of the next generation” (via MEN).
The worry for Pereira is with him playing in Scotland, it is almost a case of out of sight, out of mind, especially with the likes of Matej Kovar and Dean Henderson continuing to impress.
Henderson will have aspirations of making another step up after completing his first full season in the Premier League on loan at Sheffield United.
With David de Gea commiting his long-term future to United, Henderson may feel his future lies away from Old Trafford.
Lee Grant will probably leave the club at the end of the season with his contract expiring in June.
Sergio Romero seems happy being the club’s number two and featuring in the club competitions.
If Henderson and Grant were to leave this summer, it could be a straight shootout between Kovar and Pereira to be established as the club’s number three.
It could be Kovar’s turn to go out on loan next season, but Pereira’s chances of breaking through at Manchester United remain slim, but he has to focus all his energies on overcoming his latest challenge.
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