Everything Hearts fans need to know about new Man United loan signing Joel Pereira

Joel Pereira in action for Manchester United
Joel Pereira in action for Manchester United
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Hearts have bolstered their squad with the capture of Manchester United 'keeper Joel Pereira. Here's everything Tynecastle fans should know about the Portuguese 23-year-old...

Friends in high places

Last season, before things went sour for the Special One at Old Trafford, Jose Mourinho had been effusive in his praise for his compatriot. Although now fourth in the pecking order behind Spain international David de Gea, 96-cap Argentinian Sergio Romero and Dean Henderson who is currently on loan at Sheffield United, Pereira impressed during the International Champions Cup last summer and has spent time this summer working with United's new goalkeeping coach Richard Hartis, who coached Edwin van der Sar, Tomasz Kuszczak, Ben Foster and Tom Heaton during the double-winning season.

Plenty of experience

As well as three first-team appearances for United, Pereira has also spent time on loan at Rochdale, Belenenses and Vitoria de Setbual in Portugal and Kortrijk in Belgium. The Swiss-born shot-stopper also turned out for Switzerland at Under-15, Under-16 and Under-17 level before switching allegiances to Portugal, with whom he has been capped at every level from Under-17 up to and including Under-21. He was also part of the Portugal squad for the 2016 Summer Olympics alongside current Porto midfielder Sergio Oliveira and the in-demand Sporting CP midfielder Bruno Fernandes.

Playing for a move?

The 23-year-old's Old Trafford contract expires at the end of the season, so there's a chance the 'keeper could be looking to establish himself as the Hearts No.1 to boost his chances of a new United contract but also alert other teams to his abilities in the event that he is freed by the English Premier League side.

Pereira v Zlamal v Doyle

Zdenek Zlamal has played all six of Hearts' competitive games this season - Betfred Cup and Ladbrokes Premiership - while Colin Doyle recently signed a new deal with the Capital club. Pereira presumably hasn't come to fulfil the role of third-choice 'keeper, so the onus will be on the loanee to oust Zlamal and / or Doyle and make the No.1 spot his own.

Strengths / weaknesses

While not the biggest 'keeper - Pereira is shorter than both Colin Doyle and Zdenek Zlamal by a couple of inches - he is a tall, commanding presence in the area and often skippered the youth teams at United. He's confident, often racing from his line to snuff out dangerous attacks or pounce on loose balls. He reads the game well and is excellent with the ball at his feet, often starting attacks with pinpoint goal-kicks, while he more often than not comes out on top in one-on-one situations.

His agility earned him his nickname - "El Gato", meaning "The Cat" - and he has a decent record at penalties.

One weaker aspect of his game is dealing with cross balls. He's happy to come for aerial balls but doesn't always manage to control the ball, which causes confusion in the defence and increases the chance of a goal for the opposition.

In his own words...

Speaking to Manchester United's website during the club's time in Australia, Pereira said: “I think this season it will be important for me to play somewhere, so probably going on loan will be the best option for me, to get some games to come back better and stronger.

“To have Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer, United manager] behind me is just amazing. He is an amazing person and an amazing coach. I just want to give my best for him and for the club. It is great to have that backing.”