Benfica have strengthened their defence with the capture of Sampdoria right-back Pedro Pereira. The 19-year old returns to his former club after a season-and-a-half in Italy. Serbian midfielder Filip Đuričić has moved in the opposite direction as part of the transfer, turning his loan into a permanent deal. The Eagles are thought to have parted with €3 million plus Đuričić to bring Pereira back home. He will wear the number 23 jersey.
The Portuguese youngster was not a guaranteed starter at Sampdoria, but still racked up 21 appearances in Serie A, gaining experience against top sides such as Roma, Inter, AC Milan and Napoli. Prior to his transfer, Pereira had featured in 9 of Sampdoria's last 11 league fixtures. He has represented Portugal at under-15, 16, 17 and 18 level.
Pereira is a quick and determined defender with excellent stamina, who is widely regarded as the long-term successor to Nélson Semedo at the Estádio da Luz. The teenager is comfortable on the ball and able to support the attack, but at this early stage in his career, he has yet to demonstrate the explosive attacking talent of Semedo. On the other hand, he is several inches taller and much stronger in the air.
In conversation with BTV, the new arrival explained that he had not needed to think twice about coming back to his former club.
“At this moment I don’t have any words to describe what I’m feeling. Ever since the option to return to Benfica presented itself, I knew it would be my first choice. I spoke to Sampdoria about allowing me to leave, and when I was certain the move would happen it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life.”
“Like all players that come out of Benfica’s youth system, I too dreamed of making it to the first team. (Now) I was able to achieve that dream and thankfully I’m returning to Benfica.”
“From the moment I knew this was a possibility I expressed my desire to come back. It was a long process, but thankfully it resulted in my return. They always asked me if I really wanted to return to Benfica. I told them yes and they permitted the move.”
The Lisbon-born fullback spent seven years at Benfica's academy between 2008 and 2015, so it was a case of friends reunited when he returned to the Eagles' training complex in Seixal.
"When I left the Caixa Futebol Campus we already had the best conditions, there was nothing missing. When I came back I noticed it had grown even more and it is more complete. It is a great asset and because of it Benfica continues to grow."
"I have been reunited with my old colleagues and I felt at home again.”
“When I arrived I was nervous, but I was welcomed by everyone. I always had people nearby talking to me and they helped me feel more relaxed. It is the realisation of a dream. Now I have to continue to work.”
Pereira also had some words of praise for the man that most pundits expect him to replace in the not-too-distant future.
“I think Nélson Semedo is a great right back. In my opinion, he is one of the best in the world. I am very happy to be on a team with so many great and talented players. That will only help me to grow and improve.”
So how do Italian and Portuguese football compare?
“The Italian league is completely different, and adapting to it isn’t easy. This year I had more chances to play. It is a more tactical and defensive league. I learned a lot and I improved a great deal. Benfica is one of the best defensive sides in Europe.”
To conclude, Pereira outlined his aims for the coming months and years.
“I want to continue to get better, to help the team and to learn as much as possible with my teammates and my coach. I hope I can achieve all of my objectives.”