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‘Roberto Pereyra is the sort of player you build a team around’

Walter Mazzarri says he wanted Roberto Pereyra “at all costs” this summer after identifying the Argentine schemer as the man to add the X factor to this Watford team.

Watford doggedly pursued Pereyra all summer before Juventus finally accepted their bid and, more importantly, they persuaded the player to swap Turin for life in south-west Hertfordshire. Indeed it says a lot for the pulling power of the Premier League and plenty about Watford’s rise that the Hornets are prising players of this quality from a club as decorated as Juventus.

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“I am very, very happy with the way he played,” said Walter Mazzarri. “He is a great player but also I am happy with how much he ran from the beginning to the end and how much that meant for the team. Great player, great game. I wanted him at all costs because of the quality of this player. For us he is very, very important.”

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Picture by Franziska Empl

Gino Pozzo knows Pereyra better than anyone, having plucked him from River Plate in 2011 and getting him to sign for Udinese. His arrival at Watford is typical of the rapid upgrading of this squad and a sign of the level this progressive club is operating at when it comes to calibre of signings. The Sunday Times had him down as the man of the match while Pereyra had one former Watford midfielder purring.

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Picture by Franziska Empl

“It’s not just what he does on the ball, it’s the runs he makes,” said Derek Payne on BBC 3 Counties. “He nutmegged Payet, the so-called star of West Ham. He’ll have the ball anywhere and pulls the strings, bringing other players into the game. He’s very intelligent but he worked so hard to get back in and help Behrami. He gave the ball away once, I think. He’s the sort of player you build a side round and I think he’s going to be a big thing.”

Not half.