We at Cartilage Free Captain do transfer rumors often, and we do them well. But sometimes it’s worth doing a deeper dive into Tottenham Hotspur’s transfer targets, so we’re bringing back a series from a couple of years ago — Daniel Levy’s Imaginary Shortlist. These are players that Spurs have either been linked to in the transfer window, or sometimes who they should be linked to as the club tries to improve to challenge for a Premier League title.
Up next: OGC Nice loanee and FC Porto right-back Ricardo Pereira
Name: Ricardo Pereira
Team: FC Porto (on loan to Nice for past two seasons)
League: Ligue 1
Primary position: Right wing-back, right-back, right midfield (4-4-2)
Can also play: Right-back, right midfield (4-4-2)
As a 21 year old at FC Porto, Ricardo Pereira was struggling for minutes. The right-midfielder was failing to make his mark with the Azuis e Brancos and was converted to the right-back position during his two year stint with the club. Floating between the first squad and the Porto B side, Pereira was doing enough to show promise, but nothing to cement his place in one of Portugal’s most famed outfits.
A loan was in order and OGC Nice took the youngster off Porto’s hands for a few seasons. In this time Pereira flourished. Ricardo, as he is known, became a force down the right-flank and epitomized a two-way performer. He appeared for Nice fifty-seven times over the past two years, including being a staple in the starting eleven that surprised all of Ligue 1 in their impressive and unpredictable third-placed finish in 2016-17. With his loan spell up, his future is uncertain, yet he left a mark on the French first division as one of its most promising and underrated right-backs.
Ricardo has received attention for his stellar and consistent play over the past two years, but the specific type of player that he is makes him that much more attractive to Tottenham Hotspur and the footballing world in general right now. Wing backs are en vogue and Ricardo Pereira exemplifies some of the best qualities in that type of player.
Pereira is technically gifted and comfortable with the ball at his feet. He is able to maneuver forward, hug the touchline, eliminate players on the dribble, and combine with or overlap attackers to get numbers up situations in the final third. He is not only quick, but has a healthy pace to him too. He isn’t Kyle Walker in that category, nobody really is, but his pace is excellent and formidable once he gets going. Whereas speedy players sometimes struggle with their crossing ability, Pereira is again adept at finding runners in the box. While they aren’t the greatest stats in the world: Ricardo had four assists last year and completed 86.5% of attempts. Still, that’s not terrible production from a right-back.
Defensively he is known for proper decision-making and positioning in defense. He is hard in the tackle — the dude does get stuck in — but is also safe and smart with his challenges. Pereira only accumulated two yellow cards and zero red cards in thirty appearances for Nice last year in Ligue 1 and the Europa League. That is wonderful discipline from a 23 year old. Because of his pace, which is a certain upgrade over Kieran Trippier, he also fits well with pressing sides like Spurs. He can make up ground and meet his opponents up the pitch to apply pressure and has the ability to recover quickly when necessary.
The knocks on Pereira would be threefold. The first is that he is small. Listed at 5’9 and 154 pounds, one would have to question his ability to transition well to the physicality of the Premier League. He could struggle in aerial duels and set piece situations and could be bossed by the bigger footballers of the Premier League. He’s been strong enough in the few times I’ve seen him play and he definitely possesses aggression, but there has to be a question mark there.
The second and third negatives are more opaque, but still worth considering. Ricardo came up through the youth ranks as out and out winger so there is that pace and dribbling ability that is inherent with him and makes him attractive as a wing-back. On the other hand though, he is known to sometimes hold on to the ball a bit too long and rely on individual battles to breakdown defenses. In the fast paced, athletic Premier League this could be problematic. Lastly, he certainly has pedigree — he’s been a staple in the Portuguese youth national team setup and has two caps for the senior national team — yet he didn’t really make a mark at FC Porto. This is difficult at such young age no doubt, but he doesn’t have years upon years of performing well at a high level. No transfer is a sure thing, but this makes it less reassuring.
Finally, I haven’t found much on this, but there have been unsubstantiated rumors that Pereira is partially owned by his previous club; Vitória de Guimarães. It is common in Portuguese football for a former club or third party to have an ownership stake in a player and considering that the transfer fee he was bought for was only €1.6 million for a fixture in the Portuguese youth national team system, something like this could be a possibility. We don’t know if this is actually a thing or not, but it has been mentioned in some recent newspaper reports, and its something to watch out for.
Likely price: £22 Million
Chances that the valuation is wrong: Its believed to be his release clause, so if thats the case, its a dead-on accurate figure.
Team’s willingness to sell: High. Porto let him leave in the first place and if there a release clause attached to his contract, they don’t have a whole lot of bargaining power anyway. Great players don’t really pry their trade in the Portuguese Liga anyhow and its common for even Porto and Benfica to sell when the price is right.
Fit at Tottenham Hotspur: I’d love to say that the Ricardo Pereira rumors are bat country because Kyle Walker and Mauricio Pochettino have had a Dembélé Detente and Walker has decided to stay. Considering that this is far from reality, Ricardo is a very nice fit. £22 million is a lot for a defender, but the market is dictating that clubs pay up if they want anyone of decent quality. In this sense, Pereira is a pretty good deal. At the very least he’d be in equal rotation to Kieran Trippier for much of the season In a 3-4-3, he would gazump Trippier and most likely be the preferred option. Remember the guy was brought up as a right-midfielder so there is a lot he can bring to the attack for Tottenham Hotspur as a wing-back. In general, if he pans out of course, he is faster and more technical than our other right-back option if Walker goes.
Possibility he ends up at Spurs: There have been rumors of PSG, Barcelona, and Dortmund sniffing around Pereira, but that really seems like tabloid fodder. Dani Alves already looks to be signing for PSG, which rules them out. I think Pereira and Spurs are a great fit. The kid clearly needs to continue to play to continue his progression and he has a better chance of that with Spurs than other clubs. Further, I think that while Pereira is a nice choice for Tottenham, he isn’t an absolute steal. Ricardo should be happy to upgrade to Tottenham Hotspur. Everything in this entire window for Spurs revolves around Kyle Walker leaving for Manchester City. With Alves snubbing them for PSG, negotiations might be ramping up quickly. If Walker goes, Pereira is sensible and far and away the right-back that we’ve been linked to the most. Its almost a certainty we match that buyout clause if Walker is sold.
Grade if this transfer goes through: B+.