Tottenham have yet to make a summer signing, but they will need to enter the market during the coming weeks to replace Kyle Walker. The deal taking the right-back to Manchester City was completed in the past few days and the club will be keen to replace him quickly. They have money to spend, as they received a world-record fee for Walker, who is now the most expensive defender of all time. Selling clubs will be aware of that and it will drive up the prices of their own transfer targets. One name that is thought to be one of those is Ricardo Pereira.
The right-back has spent the last two seasons on loan at Nice and he has emerged as one of the most exciting full-backs in the world during that period. Porto are aware of his potential and they won’t want to sell him on the cheap. The Portuguese club have had financial problems during the last 12 months and they need to bring in revenue, but they will only deal on their own terms. Sky Sports understand that they are playing hardball over the fee and could hold out for £22 million, which would be enough to activate the release clause in his contract. There was a belief that they would deal for lower than that, but that is no longer the case.
How does Pereira compare to Walker and Trippier?
Pereira is more versatile as he can play in both full-back positions and as a right midfielder. He would be a great fit for the 3-4-2-1 formation that Spurs use often and offer a more mobile option than Trippier. Like Walker, he is capable of beating players on the dribble and that dynamism is crucial for a wing-back. During the 2016-17 campaign, he averaged 1.09 successful take-ons per ninety minutes, which was only marginally less than Walker (1.16). Trippier didn’t complete a single take-on last year.
Last season, he averaged 1.23 chances created per ninety minutes and ended the campaign with a pass completion rate of 87%. These are impressive figures and underline how he is reliable in possession. Although he created fewer chances than both Walker (1.3) and Trippier (1.84), he had a significantly higher pass completion rate. Pochettino will believe that he can develop Pereira into a player that can produce more in the final third as well, due to Spurs being a more dominant team than Nice.
The 23-year-old is a competent defender after being used as a defensive left-back during his first season with Nice. He averaged 2.06 successful tackles and 1.23 interceptions every ninety minutes. This is better than both Walker (1.76 and 1.2) and Trippier (2 and 0.77). Pochettino does give his full-backs a license to get forwards, which may explain these differences, but that doesn’t take away from Pereira being a reliable player when the team is out of possession.
Would he be a good replacement for Walker?
Tottenham haven’t been a club that enters the market to make big name signings. They prefer to target young and hungry players that can develop under Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine coach is excellent at improving the individuals that he works with and the new right-back wouldn’t be expected to start straight away. They would develop out of the spot light and learn the style of play of the team. Pereira has the pace, work rate and technical ability to be a great full-back. He would be a very good signing for Spurs.
The only problem is that he is weak physically, which leads to him struggling in the air. He would need to hit the gym in order to deal with the physicality of English football. For a price of £22 million, it would be a good deal for the club, as they would be sourcing Walker’s replacement for less than half of the fee that they received. Pereira has already proven himself to a high level and he is one of the best right-back prospects in Europe. Under Pochettino, he could thrive. This is a deal Spurs need to do.