It seems that every summer, United fans across the world must hold their breath as we eagerly await which club will declare their interest in star goalkeeper David De Gea.
This time around, Real Madrid came knocking but once again interest died down, especially after the goalkeeper became the scapegoat for Spain’s dismal World Cup campaign, keeping De Gea in between the sticks at Old Trafford for another season.
Sooner or later, United will have to be progressive and move on from De Gea, leading the way for someone else to make the step-up as United’s number one.
Last week, Joel Pereira, who became a key figure in Jose Mourinho’s pre-season tour of the United States, moved on loan to Portuguese side Vitoria Setubal for the season.
The 22-year-old has made just one single league appearance for United so far, a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace in the final game of the 2016/17 season.
Despite his lack of playing time, Pereira has featured consistently for the Portuguese U21’s and Mourinho hasn’t hidden his faith and belief in the future for the youngster. Mourinho has described him as “the best Portuguese goalkeeper of the next generation”, and henceforth handed him a new four-year deal in 2017.
But can Pereira be United’s next number one once De Gea has moved on?
It may be too early to say with his first-team appearances being vastly limited over his short career so far, however the potential is there for all to see.
A skill set that will stand Pereira out from any other young goalkeeper is the cool head on his shoulders and his determination.
It’s not easy for any player to find themselves on the fringes of the first team, but this seemingly hasn’t prevented him from making sure the first team is where he ends up.
When he has been given the opportunity to make his name on the big stage, his performances have often been impressive. The Portuguese U21 international proved instrumental in United’s pre-season penalty shootout victory over AC Milan in California. Pereira saved penalties from former Liverpool forwards Fabio Borini and Suso, before scoring one himself.
Standing at 6’2” and having a dominating presence in goal, Pereira has the ability to take the step-up and become United’s first choice goalkeeper one day. Mourinho’s faith in him is completely justified, and with regular appearances for Vitoria, we could even see Pereira earning his first senior international cap for Portugal before we know it.