Valon Behrami has likened Roberto Pereyra to Napoli and Slovakian star Marek Hamsik.
Behrami played with Hamsik under Walter Mazzarri at Napoli when they won their first piece of silverware, and recorded their highest ever league finish, since the glory days of Diego Maradona. He knows a playmaker when he sees one and believes Watford have got a gem in the Argentine.
“Pereyra is a brilliant player, a very nice guy,” said Behrami. “Not only his ability but his intelligence, he is a very intelligent guy. He is similar to Hamsik that we had in Napoli, he is very intelligent.
“He [Pereyra] knows where the ball needs to go, he knows where to find the space and he works very hard for the team. That is the important thing here in England as you need this kind of player.
“You can have quality but if you don’t work hard in England it is not easy. But he does both things, he has the quality and quantity and we are happy to have him in the team.”
Pereyra’s teammates have spoken about how he is not shy of doing the dirty work – and his ability to roll his sleeves up was noted by a commentator yesterday.
“A lot of players who play in his position don’t want to do the work but he’s got a lot of industry,” said Derek Payne on BBC Three Counties radio. “He’s benefited from playing higher up the pitch and getting in and around Troy Deeney.”
Hamsik has six goals this season and his goal return is one area Behrami feels Pereyra can improve. He has two to his name, including yesterday’s howitzer but a player of his ability should really be finishing the season with double figures.
“With Hamsik, maybe he was a little bit more concrete in the last 20 metres, he always wanted to score and do something important,” said Behrami. “Pereyra can work on that and maybe be a little bit more aggressive in the last 20 metres, which is the most important thing for him. But apart from that he does everything for us.”
*Additional reporting by Oscar O’Mara