Adrian Mariappa, the former Watford star, has praised Joao Pedro, calling him a “special” player who is destined for Premier League stardom. Mariappa played with Pedro for six months when the Brazilian first arrived at Vicarage Road from Fluminense in January 2020. Pedro has impressed in the Championship this season, scoring nine goals to help Watford secure an instant return to the Premier League. He scored three times in the top-flight during the 2021/22 campaign, leading to two failed offers from Newcastle last summer. Instead of seeking a move away, Pedro decided to pledge his long-term future to the Hornets in a deal until 2028.
Mariappa believes that Pedro is destined for a long career in the Premier League, having already matched his Championship tally from two years ago. Mariappa has also lauded Pedro over his maturity, with Slaven Bilic entrusting him with the captain’s armband in recent weeks. Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, Mariappa said: “[Pedro has] so much potential. I think he was 17/18 when he came to the club when I was there and you could just tell see that he had that something special. It doesn’t surprise me what he’s doing now because I feel like he’s definitely a Premier League player.”
Mariappa added that Pedro has good people around him at the training ground to learn from, such as Craig Cathcart and Tom Cleverley. He also praised Heurelho Gomes for looking after Pedro so well when he first arrived at Watford. Mariappa said that Gomes was a great person and character to gain experience from, and that some of those leadership qualities and the way he conducted himself would have rubbed off on Pedro anyway.
Pedro’s performances have shown that he loves the club, according to Mariappa. He said that Pedro is just really enjoying his game and that the club has showed a lot of faith towards him. Mariappa’s comments come after Watford secured their place in the Premier League for another season, following a 2-0 win over Norwich City on 8 May. Pedro played the full 90 minutes and provided an assist for Ismaila Sarr’s goal in the second half.
Pedro joined Watford in January 2020 for a reported fee of £2.5m. He made his debut in a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in January 2020, coming on as a substitute in the second half. He scored his first goal for the club in a 3-0 win over Liverpool in February 2020. Pedro has since become an integral player for Watford, helping them secure promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt.
Pedro’s performances have not gone unnoticed by other clubs, with Newcastle reportedly making two failed bids for him last summer. However, Pedro decided to stay at Watford and sign a new long-term contract with the club. He has continued to impress this season, scoring nine goals and providing two assists in the Championship.
Pedro’s performances have also earned him praise from his teammates and manager. Watford captain Troy Deeney recently praised Pedro for his work rate and attitude, saying that he is always willing to learn and improve. Watford manager Xisco Munoz has also praised Pedro for his performances this season, saying that he is a “fantastic player” who has a bright future ahead of him.