When a Premier League club sign a South American player, it’s very likely that most fans haven’t even heard of him before. It gets even worse when the signing is just 17 years old, and hasn’t even made a debut for the first team.
That’s the case of João Pedro, who has recently been announced as Watford’s newest signing. He’s only turning 18 next year, and will be moving to England in 2020.
Now despite being just an academy player, João Pedro already has some recognition from Fluminense fans. The reason for it is his success for the youth levels, where he’s been impressing for a long time.
Last week, the wonderkid has scored a hat-trick in a Copa do Brasil Sub-17 round-of-16 game against Cruzeiro. That was his 31st goal in all competitions this year, and with a couple of months to go, there should be many more to come.
Although he usually wears the number nine and is known for his goalscoring ability, João Pedro is often making plays on the left wing, showing some pretty good dribbling skills and proving to be a versatile player.
Last month, the teenager had his first training sessions with the first team, and it shouldn’t take long until he officially joins the big boys.
With Fluminense knowing they will have little time to enjoy having João Pedro at the club, they will surely use him as much as possible, especially so fans won’t be so mad to see a player go without featuring for them properly.
Now how good is that for Watford? It depends on how things will go and how ready he will be.
It’s obvioulys dangerous to stop a youngster’s development and simply pick him to play professional football, as you can burn stages by doing this. On the other hand, in case he’s ready, he will be playing with grown men and acquiring more experience, especially regarding physique confrontations, which are so important for someone who’s moving to English football.
Real Madrid signed Vinícius Junior from Flamengo and Rodrygo from Santos, and left them both playing in Brazil until being old enough to make the move. As the two proved to be ready for first team football, they had the chance to help their clubs until the time of the transfer, getting international experience in Copa Libertadores and even standing out in some occasions.
The criticism from fans saying ‘he already has his head at his new club’ will always be there, but as long as João Pedro keeps his feet on the ground knowing he’s a Fluminense player until 2020, he should be fine in Rio de Janeiro.
Then his new chapter begins at Watford.