Arsenal Reportedly Rivalling Chelsea for Andreas Pereira Ahead of January

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2018

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 22: Andreas Pereira of Manchester United during to the Premier League match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford on September 22, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Sam Bagnall - AMA/Getty Images)
Sam Bagnall - AMA/Getty Images

Andreas Pereira is reportedly a target for London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea ahead of the January transfer window. The Manchester United midfielder is facing an exit from Old Trafford this winter with the Red Devils ready to sell, per Neil Moxley of the Sunday People.

Moxley added Ligue 1 side AS Monaco, Serie A giants Inter Milan and La Liga's Valencia to the list of suitors keen on Pereira. The 22-year-old spent the 2017/18 campaign on loan at Los Che, but Moxley noted how "he has his heart set on staying in England."

United may use that desire to generate some funds in January since Pereira's contract expires at the end of this season. The Reds can exercise an option to extend his deal by an extra year, but this seems unlikely since Pereira has two starts and three appearances off the substitutes bench in all competitions so far during this campaign.

It's been difficult for the Belgian-born Brazil international to convince Jose Mourinho of his worth. Instead, the United manager has favoured Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera and summer signing Fred at the base of midfield.

Mourinho hasn't turned to Pereira often.
Mourinho hasn't turned to Pereira often.TF-Images/Getty Images

One theory for Pereira's exile is Mourinho's preference for power in the middle. It's a view put forward by Ciaran Kelly of the Manchester Evening News, who noted how Pereira hasn't started since being subbed at the break when United lost 3-2 to Brighton & Hove Albion back in August.

Kelly also described Matic, Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba, three midfielders defined by their physicality, as Mourinho's "go-to players."

Pereira's more cultured skills would likely find a home at either Arsenal or Chelsea. The Gunners still play a stylish and progressive game even after Unai Emery succeeded Arsene Wenger in the summer.

Similar principles are evident at Chelsea after Maurizio Sarri replaced Antonio Conte in the dugout. Sarri values midfielders who can boss possession with artistry and intelligence.

Sarri's midfield has enough strength and depth.
Sarri's midfield has enough strength and depth.IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Of the two squads, Arsenal may have more obvious room for Pereira. He could operate as one of two holding midfielders in the double pivot Emery has chosen to underpin his team with.

Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira fill those key berths, but depth is questionable. Aaron Ramsey isn't ideally suited to playing in a withdrawn role and has reportedly been told he can leave when his contract runs out next summer.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Elneny could be sold in January amid interest from Leicester City, according to The Sun's Richard Forrester.

Elneny moving on in January would leave Arsenal looking for a midfielder.
Elneny moving on in January would leave Arsenal looking for a midfielder.Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Chelsea's midfield is better-stocked in central areas, where Jorginho and Real Madrid loanee Mateo Kovacic patrol. Cesc Fabregas, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley can provide craft further forward, while N'Golo Kante is an exceptional destroyer currently miscast on the right side.

It may not be in the Blues' interest to pay the £10 million which Moxley pointed out could "rise to double that with performance-related add-ons" to add another body at a position of strength.