By Dominic Vieira, writing from Slovakia
Not many kids want to play as a left-back, but they’ll settle for the right-back position; we simply all want to attack. This is why the search for a quality left-back is an everlasting all night long headache, there aren’t many. The shortage of this position has cultivated wingers into full-backs and the transformations have been successful in the modern game, Patrice Evra and Fabio Coentrao are prime examples. Alvaro Pereira, a consistent performer for FC Porto and Uruguay, is a name which has recently been circulating scout reports and transfer rumours, but what do you know about him?
The answer is: probably not much.
Alvaro Pereira joined FC Porto in the summer of 2009 from Romanian side CFR Cluj in a controversial deal; the left-back was set to sign for rivals Benfica until FC Porto typically intervened on the 11th hour. Little was known about the player who hadn’t represented his nation at youth level, but his nickname definitely stood out, “El Palito” meaning “The Stick” in Spanish or “The Toothpick” in Portuguese refers to his speedy long legs. Speed is certainly one of his key characteristics and it’s no surprise watching him run down the entire wing for FC Porto.
His adaptation to Portuguese football was virtually invisible, his task was to replace Aly Cissokho who was sold to Lyon for €15m and the energetic Pereira impressed from the start. Despite finishing the season empty-handed, the versatile player headed to South Africa to participate in the World Cup. He was a first team player for Uruguay wearing the number 11 jersey where he played a total of 5 games and scored against the hosts. However, his Porto team-mate Fucile played as left-back which positioned Pereira further up field on the left flank where his performances attracted interest from several clubs.
“El Palito” is an offensive full-back which suggests he’s not a solid defender; it’s common to frequently see a player of this dimension caught out of position, right Marcelo? This aspect improved throughout the 10/11 season where FC Porto conquered the League, Cup and Europa League under the tactical and talented Andre Villas-Boas. In addition, Pereira demonstrated a shooting ability with this long range strike against Braga.
At the age of 25, Alvaro Pereira was a key element in the Uruguay team which captured their 15th Copa America title. He was playing on the left side of midfield where he scored a goal against Chile and the winner against Mexico. His displays awarded him praise from several journalists and attention from Liverpool. Since the departure of Riise in 2008 the club never found a suitable replacement, the 1.84m left-back would fit the bill perfectly. When the player was asked about a potential move, he responded with a smile. Despite the speculation, nothing official has yet to be released by either club.
FC Porto are the kings of the transfer market, each year they profit millions from sales; they simply know when and how to sell. The Europa League champions have invested over €30m in new signings this summer and not yet registered a major sale other than Andre Villas-Boas’ departure to Chelsea. With interest high in Alvaro Pereira and the club needing to sell at least one star to balance the books, an exit is the likely scenario. Furthermore, the club signed talented 19 year old Alex Sandro from Santos for an elevated €9.6m which indicates a solution has already been found. But FC Porto could wait until January to sell “El Palito” as Alex Sandro will participate in the U-20 World Cup.
Alvaro Peireira is protected by a €20m release fee clause, which is a fair price for a player of this calibre, experience and potential. FC Porto is reluctant to negotiate below this value which means Liverpool will have to heavily invest for Peireira’s services. But don’t forget that Real Madrid splashed out €30m for Benfica’s Fabio Coentrao.
It’s only a matter of time whether he moves to England or not.