Why West Brom's £8.25m Matheus Pereira deal is sensational business

The brilliant playmaker might go up with the Baggies and they have moved to secure his services for a great price

9:50am on Friday 19th June 2020
Paul Macdonald

The news on Thursday that Slaven Bilic expected to confirm the signing of Matheus Pereira for just £8.25m, coronavirus or not, could prove to be a sensational piece of business for such a creative and talented footballer.

Most observers have been taken aback by the performances across the season and, if the Baggies go up as expected, his involvement will have been absolutely key. Here's why.

23 yrs - AM (C), W (R) - West Brom
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Man of the match

Brazilian-born Pereira moved to Portugal at a young age and emerged from Sporting's youth set-up in 2014 at the age of 18, making sporadic appearances in the following two seasons.

Loan spells at Chaves and Nurnberg followed with Pereira posting positive numbers despite seeing his appearances limited, particularly in Germany, but he has found his style at West Brom, producing a series of sensational displays that have sent WBA to the top of the Championship and in the hunt for promotion.

It's rare to see a player so clearly meant for a higher level than Pereira in the Championship this season. The playmaker bases himself on the right wing of Slaven Bilic's 4-2-3-1 attack and just drifts inside to influence games to an immense degree.

His touch, poise and ability to drift seamlessly past opponents just can't be underestimated and while he has excellent players around him - the likes of Grady Diangana, Jake Livermore and Romaine Sawyers are top-class talents - his numbers from a creation perspective are just so impressive.

Some numbers taken from FC's Championship stats hub, which you can see here, show his dominance.

He had the most assists in the division with 13 and he has created the third most Big Chances, also 13, which is defined as an opportunity which the receiving player would be reasonably expected to score. He is also the third-most fouled player in the division.

He's a creator, one willing to make the difficult pass if that is the best option and the fact he is very good at it also helps. He's not likely to dictate a game like Pablo Hernandez, but rather Pereira's passes is a difference maker only; his passes are past the defender before he realises and he has also chipped in with goals of his own, too, with six non-penalty goals as well as averaging 2.5 shots on goal P90.

His six man-of-the-match awards also place him in fifth in the division, alongside illustrious company such as Jarrod Bowen, Eberechi Eze and Andre Ayew.

We can also look at his non-penalty contributions P90 - ie how often he makes a non-penalty goal or an assist, and his 0.66 P90 making him one of the leader in the division for making things happen.

But there are intangibles to him too - his swagger, and the clear confidence his team-mates have in him to make something happen. Again, his ability is slightly indulged by a team that allow him to shine, but on this season's evidence, he deserves that pedestal.

If Fulham achieve automatic promotion then it will be because Alexander Mitrovic's goals. The London side play nice football but lack any kind of cutting edge when the Serbian is not in the side. Fulham have scored 52 league goals and Mitrovic is responsible for 23 of them, a whopping 44% contribution. Not only that but 10 of them have been decisive which FC defines as a goal which changed the match state into the state in which it ended - ie a loss into a draw, or a draw into a win. A huge eight of the 23 were first goals, too, and four were equalisers. There is no padding in Mitrovic's numbers.

But Pereira's displays have helped to ignite a side who have emerged as one of the best in the division. 29.6% of WBA's goals have been either been scored or assisted by him, making him an instrumental member of a team who, if they go up, may surprise a few in the Premier League.

Watch Matheus Pereira's brilliant display in the 5-1 win over Swansea

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