There’s a new name to add to the list of Tottenham Hotspur summer transfer targets, and his name is Ricardo Pereira. The Portuguese media is awash with rumors that Mauricio Pochettino is set to meet the €25m release clause for the 23-year old Ricardo, who’s contract is owned by Porto but who spent the season on loan at Ligue 1 club Nice.
Both O Jogo (which claims the rumor started in the English media) and Sabado, a Portuguese daily, are on the story, which is starting to gain traction. Both claim that Ricardo is a right back and would be viewed by Pochettino as a potential replacement for Kyle Walker.
But here’s the weird thing: I’m not convinced he’s a right back at all, or at least that’s not his only position. Ricardo played a number of matches early in the season at right back, but according to Transfermarkt more than half of his matches for Nice came as a right sided midfielder, or even higher up as a right winger. He scored two goals and notched four assists in all competitions in Ligue 1.
And it gets stranger. Back in 2015, Portugal made the finals of the U21 European Championships, where they lost to Sweden in penalties. Ricardo played mostly as a striker or support striker in that tournament, and scored a goal in a 5-0 semi-final blow-out against Germany.
So what do we make of this? Well, it’s possible that Ricardo has been converted for whatever reason into more of a defensive player. It’s likely then that Mauricio Pochettino is eying Ricardo as an attack-minded right sided wingback, which could be extremely useful if Spurs are planning to continue with a back three formation. Ricardo is young and talented, but still pretty unproven even after a good loan to Ligue 1.
If we assume that Walker is being sold, Spurs have Kieran Trippier and (World Cup winner!) Kyle Walker-Peters in the pipeline, but one is a clear downgrade from Walker and one is a teenager who can also play on the left. There’s a potential opening here for a RB/RW tweener like Ricardo who has offensive skills but defensive acumen, and the ability to develop.
O Jogo claims that Porto want more for Ricardo, but then again, that’s the risk of putting in release clauses in a young player’s contract. Sabado suggests that Barcelona, Manchester City, and PSG are also tracking him. I don’t have a clear enough sense to know if Ricardo would be a good signing for Spurs or not, but if these rumors are accurate I think I can see where Mauricio Pochettino is going with this.