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Player Zone: Everton should be kicking themselves over Ricardo Pereira

Despite having a positive start under Marco Silva and setting high expectations for their season, the wheels are beginning to come off at Everton – they have slipped to 11th in the standings after losing four of their last five and have failed to keep a clean sheet since a 1-0 win over Cardiff on November 24.

An active summer in the transfer market saw some high-profile names – including Barcelona trio Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne and Andre Gomes – brought in to plug some problems areas but the Toffees still seem to be getting their policies all wrong.

Ronald Koeman showed during his time in charge that combating your weaknesses with quantity rather than quality is the wrong approach, and Silva is threatening to make the same mistakes as his era begins.

The Portuguese signed three defenders in the summer, the third being Kurt Zouma on loan from Chelsea, but, after shipping 14 goals in their last six Premier League games, Everton are clearly in need of some solid defensive reinforcements and will surely be kicking themselves for not beating Leicester to Ricardo Pereira after they were both linked in April 2018.

The Foxes, meanwhile, are currently having their best season in the top flight since their dreamy 2015/16 title win as they sit seventh in the standings and have won their last three, including a 2-1 victory over champions Manchester City.

Claude Puel and co did some fantastic business over the summer as they signed the likes of James Maddison and Jonny Evans for fees that are beginning to look like bargains, with the former starting to make the Leicester faithful forget all about Riyad Mahrez.

However, one deal that has seemingly gone under the radar is the purchase of Pereira. The 25-year-old signed from Porto for a measly £18m and has surely seen his value sky-rocket this season, despite Maddison often stealing the headlines.

The Portuguese is capable of playing at right-back or as a winger and it is this unique versatility that will make him an asset for the King Power Stadium outfit as long as he wants to be there. Deployed as a left-winger against none other than Everton on New Year’s Day, the speedster teed up Jamie Vardy to score the only goal of the game and recorded an 8.9 match rating.

The former Nice man has now chalked up two goals and three assists in the league this season, despite playing in the back four predominantly – he would have been the perfect long term replacement for the waning Seamus Coleman at Goodison Park, while also being an upgrade on the apathetic Theo Walcott.

Premier League - Leicester City v Cardiff City

Coleman is now into his thirties – he will surely only have a couple more years at the top of his game and will likely become surplus to requirements sooner rather than later as Silva looks to take the Toffees to the next level. Pereira would undoubtedly offer far more than the Irishman on both the back and front foot.

The Leicester number 14 records an astounding 4.4 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per game while Coleman makes just 1.8 and 0.9, respectively. When allowed to get forward, Coleman’s numbers are also embarrassed by those of Pereira – the former completes 0.8 dribbles to the latter’s 1.4 and the Everton captain has yet to record an assist this season (all stats from WhoScored).

Despite the signings of Richarlison and Bernard, the Toffees are still missing a few things up front – a striker and a winger to replace Walcott, who has been awful this campaign.

As we have seen, Pereira is a danger when deployed as part of a front three and could have been the player to dominate Everton’s right flank for years to come, be it as an attacker or as a defender.

What do you think, Evertonians? Should the club have brought Ricardo Pereira to Goodison in the summer? Let us know by voting in the poll below…

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Article title: Player Zone: Everton should be kicking themselves over Ricardo Pereira

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