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Adalberto Penaranda recognises similarities with Alexis Sanchez

Watford forward Adalberto Penaranda says he hopes to double last season’s goal tally and pick up valuable experience during his season-long loan spell at Udinese.

Penaranda, 19, was sent to the Pozzo-owned Italian club as Watford are blessed with more experienced attacking options and the Hornets did not want to stunt his development with a season spent on the bench or even in the stands. The Venezuelan is, we are told, very much part of the long-term plans and he will be integrated into the Watford squad next summer.

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“I’m grateful to Udinese giving me this opportunity,” he said. “I want to make a contribution to this team. I’m happy to play in such a big league as Serie A. I’m young and I still have a lot to learn.”

Penaranda scored five goals and claimed five assists as Granada again defied the odds to avoid relegation from La Liga. His two goals against Levante in December saw him break a record.

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“It was an amazing feeling to beat Messi’s record and become the youngest player to score a double in La Liga,” he said. “I had a great season at Granada last year and I want to do well at Udinese now but score twice as many goals. I’m coming here to play my football and enjoy myself. I don’t know if I’ll find Italian football difficult.”

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Penaranda was played on the left of a front three last season and integral to Granada’s game-plan of playing on the break. “I’m a left winger but I can play up front too,” said Penaranda who helped Venezuela reach the quarter-final of the Copa America last month. “Physically I’m in great shape,” he said. “I’m happy because Venezuela had an excellent Copa America. I’m looking forward to getting to know the other lads. I’ll try to fit in and follow the coach’s instructions to a tee.”

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The Udinese fans are excited about Penaranda, pinning their hopes on him following in the footsteps of their most famous son and helping them improve on a disappointing season last time out when they finished 17th.

“Alexis Sanchez is a superb player,” said Penaranda. “We’re similar in many ways but I have to focus on doing my best and being a success.”