Quique Sanchez has hailed Mario Suarez as an “amazing signing” after the Spain international put pen to paper on a four-and-a-half year deal that must rank as the most headline-grabbing transfer deal in the club’s storied history.
Suarez apparently turned down the chance to earn more money at Valencia to be reunited with his former head coach at Atletico Madrid, meaning Watford now have a player who played in a Champions League quarter-final against Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in April and who played a pivotal role as Atletico came within an ace of completing the La Liga and Champions League double in 2014.
“The possibility of bringing him is amazing,” said Sanchez Flores of the 28-year-old who joins from Fiorentina for an initial fee of £4.1. “I know him, he has a lot of tools. He is a very clever player, plays good football, he transfers the ball very well, he closes the spaces and he connects well with the lines. We are happy with the idea to incorporate this player.”
Suarez stayed overnight at a Hertfordshire hotel on Wednesday night, went to central London on Thursday for the first part of his medical and then was whisked to London Colney in a sleek black car, arriving shortly after 1pm for the second. His agent, Manuel Garcia Quilon, arrived soon after in a black cab to finalise discussions with chief executive Scott Duxbury, who arrived shortly after 10am, and owner Gino Pozzo. The deal with the player was agreed that afternoon. The delay was a result of waiting for clearance from the Italian FA. Interestingly, initial talks broke down over the player’s demands for a five-year deal.
The player did not train with the squad yesterday, instead undergoing some routine tests to assess his fitness levels and physical condition. He was not involved against Nottingham Forest today but should, all things being equal, make the matchday squad against Chelsea on Wednesday.
Like Jose Manuel Jurado, Suarez was identified and recommended to the recruitment team as a player Sanchez Flores would want and could help get. He sanctioned his signing from Mallorca at Atletico Madrid in 2011 and although Sanchez Flores left the following summer, he has seen Suarez develop into a Spain international and someone who Fiorentina paid £10.5m for in the summer, according to Transfermarkt.com. Turning 29 next month, he arrives at Watford at the peak of his powers.
“He had offers from Valencia but he said, ‘No, no. I want to come here with Watford. I want to be with your team’,” said Sanchez Flores. “This is amazing news that we have the possibility to convince a player who has won six, eight titles to come to Watford. There are a lot of teams in the Premier League with lots of big history and he decide to come here. This is very good news for us. He knows perfectly about Watford; our players, how many people can go to the stand at Vicarage Road and what is the history of Watford.”
Sanchez Flores has given a window into how he wants to set the team up in the long run in the last two matches. He is a big fan of playing three central midfielders, like he did with Raul Garcia, Koke and Tiago at Atletico, and therefore needed to add Suarez to a mix that includes Etienne Capoue, Ben Watson, Valon Behrami and, to a lesser extent, Adlène Guedioura.
If he recuperates this level, this is amazing for Watford
“He’s experienced and he plays like a pivot,” he explained. “He has a good sense of the play and can play like a No8 and like a No6. He can close [players down], he can go to the attack and he is a very clever player. He wants to recuperate the level [he showed at Atletico Madrid]. Last year [at Fiorentina] he is unlucky. It is very important to recuperate the tools of this player. If he recuperates this level, this is amazing for Watford.”
Sanchez Flores is a very sensory coach, often talking about the smell and and touch of a player. He knows he has a good one in Suarez.
“The level of the person, for me, is necessary,” he said. “Mario is a very good person and if we are able to put together an amazing group of human beings then it will be perfect.”
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