Watford legend expects Pedro to thrive with Albion
Watford legend Luther Blissett believes Joao Pedro has “so much to offer” Albion and it is the ideal club to get the best out of him.
The 21-year-old swapped the Hornets for the south coast earlier this month, ending a three-year stint at Vicarage Road where he scored 24 goals and bagged nine assists in 109 appearances.
The Brazilian forward, who joined the Hertfordshire outfit in 2020 from Fluminense, signed a five-year deal with the Seagulls and now he will hope to make his mark under head coach Roberto De Zerbi.
Watford’s all-time record scorer Blissett believes Pedro will take his game to a new level, particularly as he will benefit from playing alongside experienced professionals in Lewis Dunk, Pascal Gross and Adam Lallana, among others.
“I think it’s a really good move and it’s the right club for him. I bumped into Brighton chief executive Paul Barber and I said to him, ‘It is a great side to go to because of the way they’ve grown and conducted their transfer business’,” he said.
He controls the ball well, he knows where the goal is, and his heading has improved.
“He has got experienced players around him who can guide and help him to be the best version of himself. We saw glimpses of his potential at Watford, we know he can score goals and he has lots of attributes but I think moving to Brighton will iron out some of the kinks in his game.
“He’s got pace, he moves very well with the ball but I think he needs to be more direct and his decision-making will improve because of where he is. There are players around him that will give him better options and they will help him choose the right decision more often than not.”
While Pedro, who was Watford’s Player of the Season after scoring 11 goals in 35 matches in the 2022/23 campaign, is very highly rated – he is not the finished article.
His talent is undeniable, but Blissett believes there are parts of his game that need to be worked on, and Brighton will help him in that regard.
“He controls the ball well, he knows where the goal is, and his heading has improved. I think he will learn to have greater awareness during games, where he is on the pitch and when he needs to lay the ball off; get it, and pass it, one touch, maybe two touch – and if he starts to add those elements to his game he will be a very good player,” he said.
“He can play wide, on either side of the pitch, or as a centre forward. If you have got that it can be a great asset to you. As he improves and if he does get to that point with his knowledge and understanding of the game, he could be a decent number ten one day. I think it is a little bit early to do that job, though. However, he can complement what is around him, too.”
Brighton have repeatedly shown there is a pathway for young players at the club, with teenagers Evan Ferguson, Julio Enciso, and Facundo Buonanotte all given a chance to shine in the first team last season.
De Zerbi has said the best way for a young player to learn is to give them time on the pitch, but that luxury is something not all teams do, according to Blissett.
He added it is a very exciting time at Brighton as they finished sixth in the Premier League in 2022/23, they can look forward to a Europa League campaign next season, and they are in an excellent position to thrive going forward.
“Brighton is not a club where you have to wait a lifetime to get opportunities, he is more likely to get his chance earlier but he will learn a lot more earlier than he would at one of the bigger clubs,” he said.
“Over the past few years, Brighton have really established themselves in the Premier League. The way they are going at the moment, you can’t see them dropping out of the top eight. He has joined a club that has got genuine credentials to be in that top third of the Premier League, so for him, it can only excite him as a player to know you are at a team that is capable of doing what they have done.
“They [Brighton] have given all the top historic teams a real test every time they have played them. So there is nothing for him [Pedro] to fear going there. He just needs to listen and work very hard. He has got so much to offer and I feel Brighton is an ideal place for him.”