Should Manchester United follow through on their intention to sign Benfica's Enzo Perez?
Perez was disciplined, energetic and pertinacious playing in central midfield during Argentina's 4-2 penalty-shootout win (0-0 after extra time) over the Netherlands in the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-finals.
Starting as a central midfielder in Argentine national team manager Alejandro Sabella's 4-3-1-2 formation, Perez emulated Angel di Maria's drive.
It was an injury to Di Maria in Argentina's 1-0 quarter-final win over Belgium which forced Sabella to reshuffle his line-up bringing in Perez.
"Perez was the player of the year in Portugal," Sabella said, per FIFA.com. "He has different characteristics [to Di Maria], but he [Perez] is a dynamic player and occupies the spaces well."
When Argentine right-back Pablo Zabaleta was in possession, Perez shifted to the right side to present himself as a passing outlet.
Perez and Zabaleta totalled 18 passing combinations, per FIFA.com.
Interchanging positions fluidly demonstrates that Perez has a proficient footballing mind.
This is what United manager Louis van Gaal wants, as evident in Dirk Kuyt's transient shifts in multiple positions throughout the World Cup for the Netherlands.
By completing 42 of 47 passes against the Netherlands, Perez showed he was an accurate and efficient passer.
The 138 minutes Perez has played in the World Cup thus far, per FIFA.com, does not give you an adequate picture of his all-round playing style if you are not familiar with him.
Perez is a two-way player able to thrive in both halves of the field for Benfica.
As Juventus deep-lying forward Carlos Tevez raced away from Benfica right-back Maxi Pereira and centre-back Luisao, Perez rushed back to force Tevez into turning over the ball.
Skilful, two-footed and tricky, Perez is threatening in the attacking half, like zipping past Academica central midfielder Fernando Alexandre.
Perez performed football's answer to the ankle-breaker on Sporting Lisbon centre-back Eric Dier, wrong-footing the Englishman, and scoring with an off-balance left-footed shot.
Being a set-piece specialist is a bonus in Perez's game.
- He scored a penalty sending Porto goalkeeper Fabiano Ribeiro the wrong way.
- Perez delivered an accurate free-kick to then-Benfica (now Chelsea) central midfielder Nemanja Matic against Anderlecht.
- Then-Benfica (now Zenit) centre-back Ezequiel Garay notched up a headed goal against Nacional via a Perez corner.
Inconsistent tackling is a concern in Perez's game.
His tackles per game (3.0) in the UEFA Champions League drastically dropped to 0.5 when he started 50 percent of Benfica's games in the UEFA Europa League.
In a 0-0 draw against Juventus, Perez was 0/4 in tackles/fouls committed.
Two fouls were yellow-card offences, the latter a thoughtless hack on Juventus central midfielder Arturo Vidal.
Benfica—one of the shrewdest operators in the transfer market—have Perez on their books until 2018.
This is designed to inflate his value and maximise a potential transfer fee for Benfica.
A curve ball to United signing Perez is the byzantine relationship between Benfica and soon-to-be Valencia owner Peter Lim.
Owning the playing rights of Andre Gomes and Rodrigo Moreno, per The Straits Times, does Lim have an agreement with Benfica to sign Perez?
It could be in play because Perez alluded to signing with Valencia.
"There is the possibility of playing for Valencia, who are a great club," Perez said, per O Jogo (h/t Paulo Freitas at Sky Sports). "I am feeling very well at Benfica and I know the club will try to do the best for me, I'll respect what they decide."
Perez is the reigning Primeira Liga Player of the Year, per UEFA.com, so he is in career-best form.
An elite midfielder with a complete playing style, Perez matches what Van Gaal seeks in a midfielder.
Statistics via WhoScored.com
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