Watford sporting director discusses exciting Peñaranda and Doucouré deals

Watford’s sporting director has revealed Venezuelan teenage sensation Adalberto Peñaranda “is only going to get better” and that other clubs were queuing up to take Abdoulaye Doucoure on loan before they opted to send him to Granada.

In a fascinating interview last night with BBC Radio 5 live, Luke Dowling also stressed Watford’s model is very much different to the player trading one deployed at Udinese and that the Hornets do not demand their sister clubs play the players they have sent them on loan.

The Hornets fought off stiff competition from a host of top clubs to sign Peñaranda on a four-and-a-half-year deal late last night, with many believing he is the next big talent to come out of South America. Sources could barely contain their excitement at managing to pulling off the transfer. Peñaranda, along with big-money signing Doucoure who also signed a long-term contract yesterday, were both immediately loaned to Granada for the rest of the season. Both, we are told, will join up with Watford when they report back for pre-season training in the summer.

“[Signing Peñaranda] is one of the benefits of having a club under the Pozzo family,” said Dowling. “A talent like that is only going to get better and better and we were able to present to him and tell him this is where his future lies.”


Asked if the teenager had any choice about his future, given that he is owned by Udinese, on loan at Granada and was wanted by Watford, Dowling replied:

“People need to realise here that the players hold all the power,” he said. “Gino owns Granada and Watford and people think it’s easy for us to say, ‘Come to Watford’. But if a player doesn’t want to go somewhere, he won’t go there, it doesn’t matter what club [the Pozzo family] own. They [the players] hold the cards. But with what chief executive Scott Duxbury has helped build off the field it shows the way we are going about our business.”

Dowling personally made sure the club have retained an interest in Doucoure, making sure they were in the driving seat to pounce once Liverpool’s interest became clear.

“We tried to do it [the deal] in the summer but it didn’t happen, which was more on the player’s part,” said Dowling. “But we were still watching him, still speaking to him, the club [Rennes] and the agent. We were aware of other clubs, bigger than Watford, trying to do it [the deal] and if we didn’t do it this window and then we’d lose out so that’s why we did it today.”

Picture (plus main) by Paul Dawson

The capture of the Frenchman, six months earlier than planned, took Watford’s number of central midfielders to six and gave them one too many foreign players.

“Quique has been quite consistent in the amount of numbers he uses, pretty much using the same 13 or 14. We’ve got four good central midfielders here [Etienne Capoue, Valon Behrami, Adlene Guedioura and Ben Watson]. We added Mario Suarez and then Doucoure, so we had six, which is quite a lot, when we only play two in midfield. We didn’t want to bring Doucoure in to sit on the bench or sit in the stands. We had phone calls in about taking Doucoure and other [midfield] players if they were available. We could have sent Doucoure elsewhere other than Granada. He’s gone to Granada to continue his development. We know he’ll play, we know the style they’ll play and the thinking was to continue his development and get games.”


Doucoure faces Real Madrid in his first game for his adopted club and, potentially, Barcelona in his last. What if, in between times, José Ramón Sandova, the Granada coach, doesn’t fancy the rangy, leggy box-to-box midfielder?

“Each individual manager at all three clubs will pick the team,” Dowling said. “One of the reasons we’ve sent him to Granada is because we know he will play. I don’t mean we are telling the manager you’ve got to play him. Granada sold it to the player, they like him, they see the benefit the player will get and the benefit they will get. They were adamant when we spoke to them that they want him to play and are not just taking him to make the squad bigger. We can’t insist on him playing because he might have been poor in the last four games. But if he keeps up form he’s had then we’ve got no problem.”