While Chelsea have been connected to about every halfway decent player on the Porto roster this season, Andre Villas-Boas has recently confirmed that we've actually placed a bid on one player from their squad. Reports would indicate that we've bid £16.6 million for the services of Alvaro Pereira, a figure which is probably pretty close to his actual market value. According to AVB we're quite a ways apart in terms of compensation on Alvaro Pereira, but I think it would be a good idea to take a look at the player in question in a little more detail anyway.
Pereira has spent the majority of the last season playing left back for both club and country. AVB says he's capable of playing at any position along the left side, and looking at his skillset (which we'll get to in a bit) it seems logical that he could. I've also seen him noted for being a fairly capable holding midfielder from his time in South America, and it would be somewhat logical that he'd be very good in that role with his size/strength/skills combo. Pereira is fairly tall for an outside player standing just over 6' tall. He's got excellent speed and strength and plays an extremely physical game for such a forward minded fullback. He's also noted for covering a lot of ground during a match, something which seems to be a major factor in decisions made by AVB.
Skills wise, Pereira is noted for being extremely adept with the ball at his feet, easily maneuvering by defenders in tight spaces along the touchline. While not noted for great trickery or change of direction to blow by defenders, he's got such tight control that he can simply run by them without much risk of having the ball nipped off his feet. He's also very good at delivering a cross, something that would be extremely advantageous when Lukaku or Drogba are on the pitch. His tendency to stay along the side of the pitch would be ideal when partnered with a winger who likes to drift inward (Mata, Kakuta, De Bruyne, and Sturridge all fit this mold). He's a good tackler, and he's rarely caught out after joining the atack due to an impressive work rate. As a wing player, Pereira is an excellent option to press high up the pitch, often forcing a bad pass in a dangerous spot. He's also a very capable shooter from outside the box, as he can really let a strong shot fly.
Pereira also offers an additional skill which could add a very unigue element to the Chelsea attack. He's known for having a tremendously long throw in. While it's not a Rory Delap flat laser type throw, he's still very capable of launching throw ins into the center of the box. With some of the personnel we have available that are great in the air, this could be a valuable weapon when trying to break down opponents parking the bus in front of their net. One major area of weakness the club currently has in my opinion is a lack of people capable of delivering any type of dangerous set piece when they aren't shooting. Adding Pereira would certainly give us another element for teams to prepare for in that regard.
There isn't much in the way of great scouting video available on Pereira (at least not that I can find), but I'll give you a few short highlights just so you can get a look at the player in action. The first will simply show a beauty of a goal he fired in from about a mile out, typical youtube highlights at their finest:
The second I'll show you is not really a noteworthy goal, but the celebration is a favorite of mine:
Just for good measure, here's one more goal from the Copa America, a tournament in which he was one of the very few elite players that really looked outstanding:
Periera turned 25 in January, so an acquisition of him would seem to be one for the present and shorter term future as opposed to one for the next ten years. While he's certainly a good player, I'm not entirely sure what to make of his role on the team. Ashley Cole isn't getting any younger and will likely need to be replaced soon, but Pereira will likely be at least two seasons into a five year deal by the point that happens. We also have several internal options in Ryan Bertrand and Patrick van Aanholt (both of whom have extended their contracts within the last year) who are developed and talented enough that they would likely be pushing for regular starting jobs at clubs like Arsenal or Spurs today. It's hard to see us blocking their chances with as much promise as they've shown by signing a guy already reaching his prime.
The left wing would seem relatively set as well, as between Juan Mata and youngsters like Gael Kakuta and Milan Lalkovic we seem well prepared for a potential departure of Florent Malouda at some point. It also seems to be a foregone conclusion that Kevin De Bruyne will be joining the club shortly, giving us even more future depth on the left hand side. Maybe this indicates some more likelihood of playing Mata in a more traditional #10 role, in which case this move would seem to be an excellent one both for cover now and insurance against some of the kids not panning out. Still, it's hard to really see how this is a big need at the moment so I'm doubting we'll really increase our bid much.
That said, Pereira is definitely a player I'm very high on. Were it not for the presence of as much depth as we have on the left side already I'd certainly be going crazy for him. Just on their playing ability, I really feel Pereira brings more to the table than Fabio Coentrao (whom we were also confusingly linked with), a player Real Madrid purchased for about the ammount of Pereira's buyout. If left back/midfield/wing was a glaring weakness at the youth level, I'd certainly be happy to just pay the £25 million buyout and be done with it. In that sense I'd welcome a move for the player at anything well under his buyout, as he's certainly a bargain at that price.
The largest part of me would be inclined to pass though. While I absolutely love Pereira the player, he just creates too much of a logjam on the left side to justify a big purchase (unless the plan is to play Mata centrally, in which case this is a pretty brilliant way to give Daniel Levy the finger). As much as I'd love to see him here, we really just don't have the sort of pressing need for him that we do for a player on the right or another guy who can play as a nifty passing central midfielder. Still, you won't hear too much of a complaint out of me if we buy him, as with his buyout being right around his actual market value we just can't end up being bent over a barrel and overpaying by much. Feel free to leave your thoughts on both Pereira and the fit with Chelsea in the comments section below, as this is a player who I'm sure will be seen differently by many.