Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has sent a warning to the club's forward line, including captain Wayne Rooney, that youngster Andreas Pereira is ready to step into their shoes after he marked his full debut with a maiden goal for the Old Trafford club. Pereira illuminated the 3-0 Capital One Cup third round win over Ipswich Town with a second-half free-kick.
The Brazil Under-23 international's curling effort beyond goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski was his first goal in English football as he started in attack alongside Rooney and Juan Mata. Pereira was an unused substitute in the opening day win over Tottenham Hotspur but subsequently has been overlooked by Van Gaal.
However, the Dutch coach has now indicated he is ready to give Pereira a more prominent role in the United first team, and says he can play all along the forward line if required. "It was his first [start] and I think he did rather well," Van Gaal gleamed, according to the club's official website. "He scored a fantastic, important goal and I'm pleased. He has to compete, for example, with Juan Mata, Memphis Depay and Ashley Young so it shall be difficult for him.
"He can play in the number 7, 10 and 11 positions," the United boss added. "Lingard can also play 7, 10 and 11. I have multi-functional players but they have to compete with other players. It is dependable on the level of the players. I always put the best player in the line-up when he is working for the team."
Pereira took over free-kick duties from Juan Mata as he opened his United account and the youngster has paid tribute to the playmaker for giving him the chance. "I asked Juan for the ball and he gave it to me," he told MUTV. "We've been practising together and he trusted me. It's very special for me to score my first goal, a free-kick at the Stretford End as well. It's just like a dream come true. I'm very happy for my family, for impressing my manager and doing well for my club."