Prospecting the Prospects: Ricardo Pereira

Our “prospecting the prospects” series returns for 2018-19!
This is where we run the rule over lots of FPL prospects who will enter the game next season. This series analyses a selection of these newcomers to the FPL game by simulating how they would have performed using last season’s stats (wherever they played) as if they had been in FPL, then providing our evaluation of the player as an asset ahead of the coming period.

In an attempt to bolster a somewhat lacklustre defence from the 2017/18 season, Leicester City recently signed the marauding right-back Ricardo Pereira from FC Porto for a reported fee of £22.5 million.

Pereira’s professional career started in 2012 at Vitória Guimarães where he won the Portuguese Cup in his first year, scoring six goals in as many games, including the winner in the final. Upon signing for FC Porto in 2014, he spent the next two seasons on loan at Nice, under the tutelage of one Claude Puel (who he is joining up with again this season), claiming 2 goals and 8 assists in 50 games. He returned to Porto for the 2017/18 season and made 26 appearances, helping the team with 2 goals and 6 assists (2 in Europa League) over the course of the season.

Excitingly, whilst at Nice, Puel often deployed Pereira on the right-wing, suggesting that we finally may have a decent OOPtion on our hands.

Prospecting the prospects

Appearances: 27 appearances (23 over 60 mins, 4 times sub on/off) = 46 points

Goals: 2 goals (6×2) = 12 points

Assists: 4 assist (4×3) = 12 points

Clean sheets: 16  (4×16) = 64 points

Bonus: To give an estimation of the bonus points he would have got, we’ve reviewed the games he would have delivered points in to come to a rough number. We’ve done this by researching all the games and allocating probable bonus depending on how well he did.

Goals/Assists: Pereira scored the first goal in a 1-1 draw vs Aves on 25th Nov, but the other goalscorer, Amilton put in a brilliant display (topped off with an assist), which would have relegated Pereira to 2 bonus for this game. The only other goal he scored this season was against Pacos de Ferreira in a 6-1 rout. Although he scored a goal and contributed two assists in this game, his goal did not affect the outcome, and Marega would likely have walked away with 3 BPS after his brace: another 2 points. Pereira again supplied an assist in the 4-2 victory over Vit. De Guimararaes, though with so many goals in that game and two conceded for a -1 he would not have received bonus.

Involvement: In low-scoring games, there is always a chance for a defender to claim some BPS. In the 1-0 victory vs Benfica on 15th April, Herrera scored but also received a yellow, which would allow MOTM Pereira to claim all three bonus. Similarly, a MOTM performance vs Aves (2-0) would have resulted in two bonus, with scorer Otavio narrowly outperforming him for the full haul.

Total guesstimated bonus 9 points

Disciplinary: 3 yellow cards = -3 points

Times 2 or more goals conceded: 2 = -2 points

Scores on the doors

That’s 145 points for last season, which would have placed Pereira in the top 4 FPL Defenders, one point ahead of Antonio Valencia.

Pereira played only 27 times last season, which corresponds to a score of 5.44 points per game (PPG). If he had played the traditional 38 games, this translates to 206 points over the campaign. For comparison, the highest scoring defender was Azpilicueta on 175 points. This is perhaps unsurprising considering Porto won the League, losing only two games in the process: a feat Leicester are unlikely to achieve… for a second time.

Evaluation

Image: LCFC.com Twitter feed

Pereira looks to be a solid addition to Leicester and could be a potent option going forward for Puel’s men. As he made 27 appearances last season, we will look at the stats per game to provide a fair comparison in further analysis.

One of the key aspects of Pereira’s game is his ability to pick a pass. Whilst he only averaged 0.6 crosses per game last season, he made 35 key passes (1.3 per game). This tally that bodes well for FPL managers, this was only bested by 3 defenders last season: Kieran Trippier (1.7 per game), Nick’s man Ben Davies (1.6) and Jose Holebas (1.4).

Potentially playing OOP may help increase his output, too. He managed 19 shots last season (0.7 per game). Whilst not extremely high, all but one of these shots were from inside the box, with 60% being on target. This suggests Pereira takes shots only when he’s in favourable positions: in other words, no wonder goals to appear here, don’t expect Marcos Alonso-esque goals from Leicester’s new boy. If he can get into good positions in the Leicester set up, he may find himself amongst the goals on occasion, however, and potentially better his two last season.

The most obvious candidate to compare Pereira with is Cedric Soares (4.5), who made a similar jump three years ago, moving from Sporting CP to Southampton. With 24 appearances in the 2015/16 season, Cedric accumulated 86 FPL points (one more than his final tally for this season), with 2 assists being his only contributions. Unlike the 2017/18 season, which wasn’t the greatest for Southampton, in 15/16 they finished 6th in the table, a position Leicester will be aiming for this season, so this is a useful year to look at Cedric for because of two aspects: similar teams and similar transition.

Just under Pereira, Cedric made 1.1 key passes per game and had a lower frequency of shots (0.42 PG compared to Pereira’s 0.70). Pereira’s 60% accuracy is also a huge step up from Cedric’s paltry 1 in 4 shots on target. On the defensive side of things (obviously critical if a defender has any chance of BPS) Pereira is the more aggressive of the two, with 2.86 tackles per game compared to Cedric’s 2.33. Unfortunately, this results in an alarming propensity for giving fouls away (1.64 per game vs Cedric’s 0.75). English referees will feasibly be less forgiving on Pereira’s consistent fouling, which may result in more yellow cards this season. Cedric’s highest points tally was 102 for the 16/17 season, which is perhaps a more likely ballpark for Pereira.

One player who committed a similar amount of illegal tackles as Pereira was Watford’s perennial fouler José Holebas (4.5). He gave away 1.32 of these per game – which should put into perspective how high Pereira’s 1.64 really is. Holebas ended last season with seven yellows (cutting his unbelievable total of 14 in 2016/17 in half).

If Pereira can’t reign in his fouls, he might as well start with a Per-manent -1 (this pun is brought to you by @FPL_Stag).

The “Rolls Royce” comparator for Pereira is Andrew Robertson (6.0). Although not considered a premium defender last year, he was Liverpool’s highest scoring defender (whilst only playing 22 games). Tallying 1 goal and 5 assists for the campaign, he finished on 111 points (5.04 PPG). If this was extrapolated to account for the entire season, Robertson would have ended on 191 points. Granted, Pereira is unlikely to reach the same points total as the top Liverpool defender; the Merseyside team are much better at keeping clean sheets. Instead, the final third is where FPL managers are hoping Pereira can make an impact. His chance creation (0.96 per game) last season was slightly lower than Robertson’s (1.09 per game), but is compensated for by a higher number of shots (0.7 PG compared to Robertson’s 0.55) and a much greater accuracy (60% vs 22%). Robertson (0.50) committed a third of the number of fouls Pereira (1.64) perpetrated per game last season though.

Leicester scored 56 goals in the 17/18 season, the 7th highest in the league. Their defenders were sorely lacking in attacking offerings, however, with Harry Maguire the only real contributor (2 goals, 4 assists – same as Pereira). According to these stats, Pereira should be considered a definite step up in potential from the barrel scrapings that Danny Simpson provided last season: For example, Simpson created 0.14 chances per game last season, and took 0.11 shots – to put that into perspective, for every chance that Simpson created, Pereira created 8. That is an upgrade worth taking note of!

Pereira should fit also well into Leicester’s style of play. The counter-masters of the Premier League don’t want or need crosses, they want a player who wants to release the ball early and find Vardy. If you cast your thoughts back to the 2015/16 season you will remember a very common occurrence: A defender wins the ball; passes to Albrighton; Albrighton pumps the ball long; Vardy runs; Vardy scores; rinse; repeat; League title; thank you very much. As previously mentioned, Puel and Pereira know each other from 2 years at Nice: Pereira’s ability to fit into Puel’s system could be FPL gold for managers, especially if he is deployed as a winger.

The 5.0 pricing adds grist to the mill here: if he starts in an advanced berth for Puel interest will rise quickly. mnu WOL sou LIV bou is a mixed start but Pereira could quickly convince managers of his worth if he starts strongly (and avoids yellow cards).

In conclusion, this all points towards a solid purchase for Leicester: If Pereira can match, or better, his tally for this season (2 goals and 4 assists) he will be giving Harry Maguire a run for his money to finish as Leicester’s top defender next season. Any manager who does pick him, though, may have to accept a few yellow cards throughout the season if his discipline doesn’t improve. That said, if he can adapt to the premier league quickly, and reign in the fouls, he could be a useful differential in an FPL manager’s arsenal.

Overall rating: 3 / 5 – An above average prospect for FPL*

*derived from a completely subjective scale from 1-5, where 1 is bad and 5 is excellent

Disclaimer: we thoroughly accept this system of evaluating players isn’t flawless. Predicting how well a player will do is an inexact science, and there are many ways to do it. However, we feel that it’s a nice approach to getting a feel for how a player might do in FPL.

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