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Duong Ly writes a detailed scout report about Ricardo Pereira, the OGC Nice full back on loan from Porto.
Ligue 1 has become a treasure trove for those who like to follow the growth stories of young footballers. Teams like Monaco are now getting noticed due to their exploits in European competition, but for a few years now, talented youngster have been emerging from the country. One of the revelations of this season have been OGC Nice, who are quietly mounting a title challenge under Lucien Favre. Here, we look at their fine young full back, Ricardo Pereira, who is nearing the completion of the last season of a 2 year loan from Porto.
Ricardo Pereira’s story has been about nothing but patience and perseverance. He started with Benfica, then moved to the Sporting Academy in 2004; got released by the club at the age of 17. Not giving up, he joined Associação Naval 1º de Maio, then Vitória de Guimarães, then Porto – 6 clubs in 14 years. The 7th club, OGC Nice, was the consequence of a prior dispute between FC Porto and Les Aiglons over Carlos Eduardo’s loan deal. There were complaints from the Cote d’Azul football team about their first-option to purchase not being fulfilled, as Eduardo was sold to the Middle East.
Pereira’s transition to the full-back role started during Porto’s Fonseca days, learning how to play mostly in Porto B’s matches in Segunda Liga. Pereira worked hard as a sub for Danilo, but the chance to be a first-team regular right back soon vanished when Maxi Pereira (from Benfica) joined Dragoes.
Along with Tiago Rodrigues, Ricardo Pereira was offered to OGC Nice on a two-year loan deal as compensation from FC Porto. After two years now, hardly anyone could’ve imagined Ricardo Pereira making the journey from forgotten man at FC Porto to being one of Ligue 1’s consistent and underrated full backs.
Coming to OGC Nice, Ricardo Pereira stated that:
“I will have an opportunity to play an offensive and defensive role. I think this is a positive. I believe a loan of two years was the best option. It will give me stability and help me progress”.
Coming to Nice, he was used as a defensive-oriented full back on the left under Claude Puel. Filling the void created by Jordan Amavi’s departure – who had been nothing but excellent throughout the 2014-2015 season, having the highest volume on average tackling and interceptions per game – was what was planned by OGC Nice head coach at the time. Therefore, we saw a bustling and combative Pereira who focused on defensive duties, as proven by the numbers – having 3.12 successful tackles and 2.96 interceptions per game. Not as much as Amavi (3.08 tackles and 4.58 interceptions) but the numbers were close enough.
Next year, being returned to the right-back spot by the new coach Lucien Favre, Pereira took up the offensive full-back role, utilising his offensive arsenal again. There was a decrease in defensive raw output (tackles + interceptions decreased from 6.08 to 4.2 – mostly due to interceptions: 2.96 to 1.67 ); however, Pereira offensive game didn’t lose out at all, as he tripled his chance creation output from 0.58 to 1.53 per game, already earning 3 assists this season.
One of Pereira’s main and original strengths is his unerring engine with very good stamina, pace and acceleration. This unerring physical ability, together with his decent crossing ability is pretty much a staple for every developing winger. The fact that he’s been able to retain these strengths after being converted to a wingback (where he has a lot more individual responsibility) is worthy of praise. Ricardo Pereira this season is one of the best offensive right backs, producing the highest amount of key passes per game and being one of the top 5 dribblers (1.6 successful dribbles/game) position wise. This could be credited to a variety of traits from the Portugese player. Firstly, Pereira’s change of pace is very good. That’s why his offensive output and dribbling output on the right wing has been way better than the left wing – Pereira is more confident handling the space towards the wing by pushing the ball to the right; playing on the left would generate more inward and backward movement from the left sidelines.
Returning Pereira back to the right wing also allowed him to perform good overlapping movements, whether it would be with the right winger or right midfielder, as he understands the duty for his own role as well as his partner. He can also cut inward and play like a central midfielder on some occasions.
The OGC Nice fullback is quite short (1.75m) and thin, so it is unlikely for him to do well in aerial duels. This is a normal and understandable issue, as it is hard for a short fullback to participate in aerial duels and this could be exploited by early crosses.
All in all though, Ricardo Pereira is a well developed full back. His versatility has been tested throughout his two seasons at OGC Nice, and there are hardly any weaknesses in his playing style (barring the limitations related to his body frame). The player is in a bit of a limbo at the moment, as he nears the end of his 2 year loan spell in France. It will be interesting to see where he does ultimately end up, Porto, Nice, or a third party.
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