The rampant right-back. The marauding monster. The Portuguese prodigal son. He has dominated the flank for Leicester during the last two seasons. Ricardo Pereira’s transfer signalled a shift in Leicester’s philosophy. For two seasons, Simpson covered Mahrez’s defensive lethargy and was a proverbial weight balancing Leicester’s wing. With Mahrez’s departure and Pereira’s arrival, Leicester’s style developed towards integrating symmetrical fullbacks both supporting play in the final third.
But is Leicester’s #21 looking across the English Channel to Parisian pastures new? Recent competition heralded by Justin and the new kid on the block Castagne, combined with Pereira’s injury and internal transfer policy could spell for the Foxes to cry “bon voyage” to Pereira.
Pereira’s no stranger to Ligue 1.
From 2015 he was on loan at OGC Nice for two years, playing as part of the team that reached third in 2017. PSG’s fans remember Pereira’s performances, perhaps due to Pereira getting on the scoresheet against them in a 3–1 loss. Parisians tweeted en masse in summer via ‘#PereiraAuPSG’ and showcasing extraordinary Photoshop skills.
So what does this mean?
PSG is a financial juggernaut in world football. Despite a lack of success on the international stage, they are capable of attracting world-class players. PSG’s right defensive berth was manned jointly by Thomas Meunier and the younger Colin Dagbo. The former has left for German pasture, while the latter’s stock has been falling. Roma’s former favourite son Florenzi has found success on loan at PSG this season, recently announcing his joy at winning his maiden trophy. PSG maintain an option to buy Florenzi at the end of this season.
Meunier, like Simpson, was a player that provides cover. But does not necessarily generate the offensive impetus capable of overwhelming the opposition’s flanks, as Pereira had done multiple times last season.
Tweetering on the Brink
But Pereira is very aware of the Paris connection.
In a video interview with France’s Téléfoot, Pereira stated “all the players want to play the biggest competitions, and I think I’m ready for that… it makes me laugh to see the montages on the Internet, and it makes happy to know that I have fans here”.
Leicester’s current high-flying position is an exciting attack on the Premier League’s zeitgeist, beckoning comparisons to Wall Street Bet’s current offensive against hedge funds. But beyond present success, will The Foxes realistically be able to keep hold of a player capable of being genuinely world-class? Recent years have seen a top-tier player depart per season. Will the path set by Kante, Mahrez and Maguire be trodden once more by Pereira?