Watford have withdrawn from the race to sign Roberto Pereyra but have signalled their intention to lure another high-class South American player away from Serie A by bidding for Juan Jesus.
The Hornets are thought to have made a bid of £7.8m for Pereyra, Juventus’ Argentine playmaker who is expected to leave Turin this summer. But, at this stage and amid interest from Tottenham, West Ham and Swansea, they have switched their sights elsewhere. The fact the club allowed Jose Manuel Jurado to leave suggests they are confident of landing a new schemer.
The club are more optimistic about signing Jesus, the Brazilian international who seems to be on his way out of Inter Milan. A bid of around €10m has been submitted, an offer which would eclipse the club record fee for a defender, set when they signed Christian Kabasele for around £5.8m from Genk last week.
The fact they are pushing hard for Jesus, who has won four friendly caps for Brazil, confirms Walter Mazzarri is looking to field three centre-halves and wants to add Jesus to a stable that already includes Sebastian Prodl, Craig Cathcart, Miguel Britos and Kabasele. Reports yesterday of Newcastle United bidding for Cathcart are, we are told, unfounded.
Roma are reportedly also keen on Jesus, the 25-year-old who worked under Mazzarri at Inter, but they, according to Football Italia, are only prepared to take him on loan with an option to buy at the end of the season, perhaps leaving Watford in a stronger negotiating position as they want a permanent deal. Jesus was born in Brazil but qualifies to play for Italy, thus avoiding the need for a work permit.
The Hornets are also pushing hard to sign Saido Berahino and left-back Juan Camilo Zuniga but are not, we understand, in the hunt for teenage Nigerian defender Wilfried Ndidi, Danish midfielder Thomas Delaney or Palermo midfielder Franco Vasquez.