Forget Barnes: “Classy” £70k-p/w Leicester brute was Rodgers’ unsung hero vs Villa – opinion

Leicester City scrape a narrow win over Aston Villa thanks to goals from Harvey Barnes and James Maddison. Despite the home side grabbing a goal back early in the second half, it wasn’t enough to hugely trouble the Foxes.

They held onto their lead and will enjoy jumping into second place thanks to their hard-fought win.

Barnes was unarguably the player of the match with a goal and an assist to his name.

However, one man who also shone for Leicester was Ricardo Pereira. The Portugal international was deployed in a more advanced role this evening, starting the match in a wide attacking position rather than his usual spot in defence.

This is the first time he has played in this position since his long-term knee injury, but he definitely didn’t forget how to adapt.

Ricardo Pereira vs Aston Villa

A versatile senior player is something that every Premier League club should benefit from. Pereira has certainly proven that he can adopt new roles and his performance against Villa showcased his versatility at its best.

According to Sofascore, the £70k-per-week speedster registered two shots on target and made two key passes, which showed just how much of a handful he was for the Villains’ defence.

Not only did he make their backline work with his attacking contributions, but his natural defensive mind also came into play.

Pereira chipped in three tackles when tracking back to help out the defence. This is more than what both Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans managed to put in, with the latter failing to register a single tackle, block or interception.

Finding the balance between attacking and defending is a skill that takes a lot of fine-tuning, but Pereira has the ability to perform in both roles without neglecting one or the other.

Jamie Carragher recently heaped praise on the full-back, describing him as a “classy” player under Rodgers. Indeed, the boss will be delighted to have him back from injury and will hope to continue to utilise him in these more advanced positions.

In other news, Steve Howey labels James Justin injury a “huge blow”…

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