An Old Friend to Star In An Italian Job
Posted by Ryan Smith | Published on August 20, 2016
After months of drawn out discussions, rumours of the deal falling through at the very last minute and other clubs rumoured to have agreed personal teams with the player, Roberto Pereyra has become Watford’s fourth signing of the window and what a signing it could prove to be for just £13m (a club record transfer fee). The Argentine made just 36 appearances since signing from Udinese in 2014 – scoring only four goals during his time The Old Lady. A record that may have some Watford fans worried given that the majority of their goals last season came from strikers Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo.
Pereyra has been on Watford’s target list for what seems like forever. Rumours surfaced about the Argentine in mid to late July. As mentioned above, it was rumoured the deal had fallen through due to Juventus’ demands for the player being too high for Gino Pozzo’s (Watford’s chairman). It was rumoured by various Italian outlets early on in discussions that The Old Lady wanted around €23m (around £19m) – presumably to soften the blow Gonzalo Higuain’s transfer would make in the bank balance. The Hornets have managed to acquire the 25-year-olds services for around €15m (£13m) – £10.4m upfront with around £2.6m in add-ons and bonuses.
Watford fans have been crying out for an attacking midfielder for the new season. Looking at the squad list, it was really the only position that had got significantly worse from last season. Loaning Steven Berghuis to Feyenoord and selling Almen Abdi to Sheffield Wednesday with no real replacement on the horizon had fans worried. Sofaine Boufal’s name surfaced and it filled some with hope, but Gino Pozzo doesn’t like spending more than what he wants to, and thus, the deal fell through. It was always going to be a big ask when some of the biggest clubs in Europe were chasing the Moroccans signature.
Pereyra arrives at Watford having not played much football in the last 12 months. In total, he missed 22 games last season due to injuries. A muscle injury kept him out for nearly 3 months in October 2015 to January 2016. The Premier League is one of the most physical leagues in world football, so this could prove to be a problem for the Argentine if he struggles to stay fit.
At just 25 years of age, some would say that Pereyra is coming into his prime and now is his time to prove his potential. Entering one of the best and toughest leagues in world football will be a step up from what the Argentine is used to, but with a huge amount of experience surrounding him in midfield at Watford (Watson, Capoue, Amrabat, Guedioura etc), and playing with the likes of Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba during his time at Juventus last season – not to mention representing his country 14 times, many Hornets fans will be hoping that he will settle in well and adapt to life in England and the Premier League.
£13m sounds like a lot for a player who has hardly played any football over the last 2 years, but in this market, for a player of his ability and a relatively small club like Watford, that price tag is a huge coup for what he could offer. This transfer is a real signal of intent from Watford and how they want to progress up the food chain of English football.