During the January transfer window, Arsenal were linked with a £20m move for fullback, Ricardo Pereira.
Could he be one they will consider moving for in the summer?
Ricardo Pereira is a 23-year-old fullback who has seen his reputation increase as a result of consistent performances over the last two years.
The Lisbon-born right-back, who can also play on the left or in an attack-minded position further forward, joined Nice in August 2015 on a two-year loan spell from Porto.
He has impressed when called upon and played an important role in the side’s surprising progression this term – where they are currently 2nd in Ligue 1, just four points adrift of leaders Monaco.
Pereira was praised for the way he effortlessly settled into the Nice team under Claude Puel. Still struggling with the language barrier, he made his versatility count as impressive displays meant he was rewarded with regular starts.
He has a number of key attributes which allow him to look convincing in attack whilst maintaining a physical presence at the back. His acceleration and tendencies to bomb down the flanks with regularity mean he’s tough to dispossess once he gets going.
This was typified by his first and only goal of the campaign thus far, during a 2-1 win over Lorient. Although he played as a right-midfielder on this occasion, and excelled, he looks comfortable in a range of positions and it’s no surprise that current boss Lucien Favre is using that to his advantage.
His composure with the ball at his feet and ability to make important decisions under pressure mean he is equally effective in defence. Tenacious in the tackle (40 won in Ligue 1 this season) and someone who uses pace to good effect when pressurising opponents, he also shows high concentration levels.
This is justified by the timing of runs and a tendency to make key probing passes in the attacking third. Assists against Marseille, Monaco and Nantes from similar positions reiterate the threat he poses going forward.
Pereira likes to make full use of open spaces and dribble forward, but there are occasions better suited to passing and he opts to take a touch too many or creates unnecessary pressure on himself.
These are just small issues that need ironing out, as well his tendency to commit fouls. With 22 in Ligue 1 this term, he has made more than any defensive-minded teammate and his aggressive tackle style is partly to blame for this. As opposed to applying pressure by tightly marking, he’s unafraid to make 50-50 challenges which seem risky at times.
He was heralded as a revelation by many shortly after his arrival at Nice. Given sporadic opportunities to perform with Porto, it’s no surprise he was determined to prove critics wrong and although he is still technically their player, it’s hard to envisage him wanting to stay unless he feels there is some unfinished business to complete.
Liverpool, Arsenal and Inter have all been linked with his signature in recent months. However, it’s important he receives good advice and continues to play regularly, which ultimately allowed him to develop to this level in the first place.
He could benefit from taking the same stance that Djibril Sidibé did last summer. Rejecting Arsenal’s advances, he opted to remain at Monaco where there were first-team assurances.
Pereira currently has two years left on his contract so Porto will want to sell for the highest price possible, should he want to leave. However, he must be warned that a Premier League move now could see minutes limited, just like in previous seasons.