Claudio Ranieri sings praises of ‘crack’ Watford star Joao Pedro

Former Fluminense man Pedro celebrated his maiden Premier League goal last weekend.

Ed Elliot
Saturday 27 November 2021 10:00
Watford’s Joao Pedro has been backed to become a big star (John Walton/PA)
Watford’s Joao Pedro has been backed to become a big star (John Walton/PA)

Claudio Ranieri has tipped Brazilian forward Joao Pedro to develop into a star player for Watford

Former Fluminense man Pedro celebrated his maiden Premier League goal last weekend after coming off the bench to help seal a thumping 4-1 win over Manchester United.

Hornets boss Ranieri will be forced into an attacking reshuffle away to former club Leicester on Sunday, with the influential Ismaila Sarr ruled out by a knee injury sustained against United.

Pedro – who has only made one top-flight start to date following some impressive displays in the Sky Bet Championship last season – is among the alternatives, although his manager suggested he will continue to use the promising 20-year-old as an impact substitute for the time being.

“I believe a lot about this player,” said Ranieri. “I think he could be a crack – in football ‘crack’ means a very high level – because he’s a good professional.

“But I have to understand which is his best position because now he wants to do everything.

“I speak a lot with him because I believe in this young player. I don’t know if he’s ready to play (from the start).

“Now, he’s very dangerous when he comes on during the match. But sooner or later he will start from the beginning.

“He’s an intelligent player.”

Watford have registered some eyebrow-raising results since Ranieri replaced the sacked Xisco Munoz in the Vicarage Road dugout early last month.

Memories of an initial 5-0 thrashing at home to free-scoring Liverpool have been wiped out by a surprise 5-2 success away to Everton and last Saturday’s hammering of United, with narrow defeats to Southampton and Arsenal sandwiched in between.

Veteran Italian Ranieri has vowed to persist with an offensive style of play as he bids to prevent the Hornets from suffering an immediate return to the second tier.

“I love this kind of philosophy and we must continue this philosophy now,” he said.

“Sometimes you can press higher, sometimes you can press in the middle third, but it is important you want to do something during all of the match.

“We have to achieve 40 points (to avoid relegation) and we have to continue to fight in every situation and for every ball and in the end we will see.”

Ranieri will return to the King Power Stadium for the first time as an opposing manager since masterminding Leicester’s shock title success in 2016.

The 70-year-old believes the remarkable achievement serves as an enduring lesson in triumph over adversity.

“I think the Leicester story opened the mind to all of the little teams,” he said.

“But also I think it was a good story for the man: never, never give up.

“In every man and woman’s life there are problems, there are obstacles but if you believe you can go over, if you are strong in the bad moment, you can go over.

“That means the Leicester story, in my opinion.”

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