Andreas Pereira produced a convincing display for Grenada in their 2-1 defeat to Atletic Bilbao on Wednesday night.
The Brazilian, who joined the Spanish side on loan from Manchester United over the summer, was an effervescent force on the left hand side all evening, causing the Basque side a variety of problems with his direct style and nifty manipulation of the ball.
A quick glance at Pereira’s stats reveal the busy nature of his performance for Paco Jémez’s side: 2 shots, 83% pass accuracy, 5 crosses, 7 take-on, 5 interception, 1 block, 1 chance created.
Such numbers grow in significance when you realise that Pereira features in a Grenada side – currently languishing in 19th spot – desperately lacking in attacking potency. Their main striker, Artem Kravets, averages four goals a year.
To look busy for a side dripping with confidence and goalscoring bravado is one thing; to replicate that in side sapped of any creativity is far more significant.
Man United – and indeed many other clubs – can be accused of sending promising youngsters down a gloomy path: loaning them out to wilting, relegation threatened sides, whereupon they manage perhaps 15 touches of the ball in the opponent’s half every game.
This was the case with Wilfred Zaha and his loan move to Cardiff in 2014; Adnan Januzaj‘s move to Sunderland this summer threatens to follow a similar pattern. Creativity is starved, and players return even more sapped of confidence than before.
It is refreshing, then, to see Pereira buck that trend with a masterful performance, even in the face of grim adversity.