Ricardo Pereira

Ricardo Pereira: Settled In Leicester

It’s been an eventful eight or so months for Ricardo Pereira, who in that space of time has played at the FIFA World Cup Finals, made his Premier League debut and scored the winner against the champions of England.

Admittedly, Ricardo wasn’t sure how easy it would be to make the switch from Porto – Portugal’s second-largest city – to Leicester and see his career as a professional football continue to thrive at the highest level.

But, with the assistance and support of the Club’s existing and new players, staff and supporters, the transition has been much simpler than expected.

As the months have gone by, Ricardo has become more accustomed to life in England, and what it takes to be a success in a team that has handed more minutes to players aged 22 or under than any other Premier League side this season.

Speaking exclusively to LCFC.com, Ricardo said: “It was easier than I thought, coming here. It was a new championship, new country, new team-mates and new club. At the beginning, before you come, you are a little bit anxious maybe.

“You don’t know what you will find. It was important to have Adrien [Silva] and Papy [Mendy] too, because I knew them from before. When I arrived here, they told me it won’t be so tough.

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Ricardo's Four Premier League Assists

Ricardo Pereira has registered four assists in the Premier League this season - watch them here.

“It’s going well in the city too, it’s quiet. It’s easy to settle in. The championship was a little bit difficult, because it’s different from Portugal and even France. I think, game after game, you start to know better your team-mates, the way they play and they started to know the way I play. It becomes easier and easier.”

On the field, beating Chelsea and Manchester City – who have each won a Premier League title in the past two years – over the festive period have been high points, but the versatile 25-year-old believes City must learn to follow those victories up with results against the sides they are expected to perform against.

“It’s been a little bit irregular,” he explained. “We’ve had good games and we’ve had bad games. We had good games that we lost, and we had some bad games that we won. It’s a long season and we need to be more regular, more consistent.

“It will make the difference in some games. If we can’t win, we can’t lose, like against Wolves for example. We have to be more mature. With the games, we will start learning that and improving that.

“We know every game here, it’s difficult, sometimes we play against first or second and we won, and we play against the last and we’ve lost. It’s difficult to explain, sometimes there’s a lot of circumstances in the game with players whether it’s home or away.

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Ricardo Pereira
Ricardo Pereira

This season, Ricardo Pereira has scored twice for Leicester City and has registered a further four assists.

“We have to be ready for that during every game, because we have to enter every game like it’s the best team in the world because you never know what could happen here. We have to improve that.

“There are very good players in all teams, players that can decide the game. For sure, it’s the most competitive championship I’ve played in.

“If we don’t win, we have to wait for the next game. Sometimes we have to wait for one week and we have to train with the game in our memory. We want the next game to arrive fast so we can give another image.”

Ricardo’s first season in the Premier League has seen him score twice, including a stunner against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, who now occupy the table’s summit. He’s also turned provider for a further four goals, registering an assist in the 1-0 triumph at Everton six days after the win over Man City.

“I think it’s been good, I think I can do better, but in my first season, it’s good to play almost every game,” he continued. “It’s very important to know the way of the Club and the championship and how we play here. My goal is to continue to improve, to be even better and better. I think I can do better than this.

In the moment that we won the game, and with it being after Christmas, it was the best moment for me. I had my family in the stand, so it was a joy, I ran and I screamed! It was a good feeling.

Ricardo Pereira LCFC.com

“I’m used to playing forward or in defence. Last year, in Porto and sometimes in France I played at the back. It takes a couple of minutes to think ‘okay, I’m playing further forward and not at the back, so let’s change’. I’m used to playing both positions, so it’s not that hard for me.”

His interests are not too dissimilar to other 25-year-olds. Friends, family, football and food are often on the agenda, while his French bulldog also keeps him occupied away from the Football Club.

“Normally, I watch football, films and series and play PlayStation too, and I have my dog,” said Ricardo. “When I have family here, we have dinner in the city – sometimes in Leicester and sometimes in London.

“I show them around, and I show my friends around too. We’ve eaten Turkish food, Italian food and Chinese food. I can cook basics, not too fancy – chicken, beef and fish. I try to always be healthy!

“At the moment, I’m watching Power and How To Get Away With Murder. I’ve already watched Breaking Bad, there’s a lot of seasons, and Suits, too. I’ve started watching All American now, it’s a good one, but it’s got one season only.

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Ricardo Pereira
Ricardo Pereira

Ricardo Pereira scored his first goal for Leicester City against Everton.

“I like films that are based on true stories, some dramas. Before, I enjoyed action films, but now, I prefer to watch realistic films. Yes, I’ve matured!”

The conversation switches back to football when asked about his favourite moment at Leicester so far. The emotion of scoring a brilliant goal against one of the most talented sides in world football is hard to beat.

The Portuguese continued: “In the moment that we won the game, and with it being after Christmas, it was the best moment for me. I had my family in the stand, so it was a joy, I ran and I screamed! It was a good feeling.”

Leicester City’s 2018/19 target, with 12 fixtures remaining, is to hunt down seventh-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers, who have won three of their last four Premier League games to strengthen their position in the table.

Ricardo knows many of Wolves’ Portuguese contingent, and ate dinner with Rúben Neves and Diogo Jota last month, albeit after the Foxes’ dramatic 4-3 reverse at Molineux Stadium on 19 January.

They are in a good position, that’s good for them and I am happy to see Portuguese players and a Portuguese coach doing well, but let’s hope we do even better than them.

Ricardo Pereira LCFC.com

“It’s difficult because many teams are working for seventh place,” Ricardo said. “If you win one or two games, you are there, if you lose two or three games, you slip down.

“Let’s see, because there are a lot of games still to play. We have to go game by game and do our job, and then at the end, we’ll see where we are.

“I went for dinner the week after the game with Ruben Neves, and then when I arrived, so was Jota. I said ‘I’m going home!’.

“For the fans of football, it was a good game. For us, it was difficult. They play good football, they’ve played together for two years and they have their own way of playing with the ball and having patience.

“They are in a good position, that’s good for them and I am happy to see Portuguese players and a Portuguese coach doing well, but let’s hope we do even better than them. We are competing against them, and of course, I want to do better than them.”

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Ricardo Pereira
Ricardo Pereira

Ricardo Pereira has made five appearances for the Portugal national team, having also played at four different youth levels for his nation.

Ricardo will be hoping to share a pitch with some of Wolves’ stars this summer, when Portugal face Switzerland in the UEFA Nations League Semi-Finals. England take on the Netherlands in the other last-four fixture, a tie that promises further international representation for the Foxes.

Discussing Portugal’s chances, Ricardo said: “We have very good players in almost every position. In right-back, there’s even more! We have at least four players that play at a good level. It’s very competitive.

“The manager has the power to choose. I try to do my good work here every day and then it’s a bonus if I have an opportunity to go. Of course, I have this objective and I want to be called up to the national team.”

For now, Ricardo’s focus is to help City match the ambitions that they are showing off the pitch following the announcement of the Club’s plans to expand King Power Stadium and build a brand new, state-of-the-art training facility.

“It’s good to see the effort from the Club to give better conditions for the players, and the young players and fans by improving the stadium,” added Ricardo.

“For us as players, too, it’s good to see that improvement and that they are doing their best to continue improving the Club. We have to do the same on the field. I think it’s one more thing for us to aim for.”

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