Adalberto Penaranda close to agreeing La Liga return

Adalberto Penaranda is on the verge of agreeing a loan deal to Malaga, according to reports in Spain.

We exclusively revealed in October the Hornets were weighing up moving Penaranda back to Spain, and Estadio Deportivo now report Malaga are on the verge of completing a deal for the remainder of the campaign.

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The Venezuelan signed a four-and-a-half year deal with Watford in February last year after a stint at Udinese but spent the entirety of last season on loan at Granada. However, the forward was immediately loaned back to the Pozzo-owned Udinese over the summer because Watford, who wanted him in their Premier League squad, had an application for a work permit turned down.

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The Hornets have been disappointed with the amount of football the Venezuelan teenager has seen in Serie A this season (just one start and six appearances) and trying to persuade the UK Home Office to give a work permit to an Udinese substitute will not be easy. Watford have already had one application refused because Penaranda does not fulfil enough of the criteria.

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A work permit is always going to be tough to secure for Penaranda, as Venezuela are not ranked in the top 75 of Fifa’s rankings, but another year in Spain would help him gain Spanish citizenship as he will have spent more than two years there as a professional. It will also allow him to move more easily between European clubs. Watford used the same naturalisation process to help Isaac Success gain a work permit, with the size of the transfer fee (£12.5m) also helping their case. Watford, in hindsight, probably wish they had paid more than €8m for Penaranda 12 months ago.