28-year-old 7-cap Portuguese international Ricardo Pereira will be looking for an injury-free 2022/23 Premier League campaign to force himself back into the international reckoning with a FIFA World Cup looming at the end of this year. Pereira, whose last international appearance came back in 2019, endured a stop-start campaign in 2021/22, resulting in him making only 14 league appearances.
That’s the lowest number of appearances in a season during his four years at the King Power Stadium to date. Nevertheless, the Foxes showed no fears about his injury record, agreeing a new four-year deal with Pereira in February, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2026. In doing so, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has avoided the potential of a Bosman departure – something that the club is facing with Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans next summer.
Pereira has been part of the Foxes’ furniture since joining from Porto in 2018, two years after City landed the Premier League title. Although Pereira and Leicester have failed to emulate their miraculous underdog achievement, topping the league after starting the 2015/16 campaign as favourites for relegation, their FA Cup triumph in 2021 demonstrated that the club is still competitive in the upper echelons of English football.
Pereira was the Players’ Player of the Season and the fans’ Player of the Season in 2018/19, but in the last couple of years he appears to have drifted. Just 15 appearances in 2020/21 and 14 appearances in 2021/22 would merit very poor value for money in the eyes of many football club owners. However, the Foxes’ hierarchy and Rodgers appear to have given him a significant vote of confidence with the new four-year contract.
Pereira should be entering the prime of his career
All appeared to be going to plan for Pereira in his first two seasons with Leicester. In the 2020/21 campaign, he had three goals and 28 appearances to his name by March, when the Portuguese suffered a shock cruciate knee ligament blow. The injury would keep Pereira sidelined until January 2021 and he was unsurprisingly ring rusty for the back end of 2020/21.
In irritating hamstring problem also saw Pereira miss six key fixtures in November last season. Although the signs suggest that Pereira may be becoming more injury prone, the Foxes’ medical department will have done their homework before sanctioning his new four-year deal.
At 28 years of age, Pereira should be robust enough to be able to shrug off an ACL injury and continue playing at a top level for several years. When Pereira signed his new long-term deal, he said that the “potential is here” for Leicester to return to the top table of English football once again. Pereira said the squad needs to “be more consistent” and enjoy “a little bit more luck” to compete again for European football.
Signs of Pereira getting back to his best
Towards the back end of last season, Pereira was starting to show glimpses of what he was capable of back in 2018/19. Pereira got on the scoresheet in City’s 2-1 UEFA Europa Conference League victory over PSV Eindhoven, booking the Foxes a place in the semi-finals. His barnstorming, attack-minded style often saw him involved in Leicester attacks throughout the first couple of seasons and supporters and Rodgers alike will be keen for him to provide a similar outlet once again in 2022/23.
Pereira joined a string of Leicester players in returning early for the start of pre-season training. The Portuguese has already been hard at work with personal trainer Francisco Martins back in his homeland. With Pereira and several Leicester stars not seeing international action during the off-season, Rodgers had the luxury of bringing back many of his first team back to work from 27th June.
Nigerian international midfielder Wilfred Ndidi has been undergoing individual sessions of his own at Leicester’s Seagrave training ground. It all augurs well for the Foxes to make bold bid for success in 2022/23. City and Pereira start their next Premier League campaign with a home game against Brentford, followed by a trip to Arsenal and a home clash with Southampton. The fixture list could have been meaner to City, with a credible chance to have at least six points on the board by 20th August.