Watford boss Walter Mazzarri says he would rather have Roberto Pereyra in his midfield than Manchester United star Paul Pogba.
Pereyra will be reunited with world-record signing and ex-Juventus team-mate Paul Pogba after his comparatively low-key move to Watford, when United travel to Vicarage Road on Sunday.
Pogba’s displays in United’s 2-1 derby defeat to Manchester City last weekend and Thursday’s 1-0 Europa League reverse at Feyenoord have come in for criticism, while Pereyra has adapted seamlessly to life at Watford.
He scored on his debut in the defeat to Arsenal and put in a stunning performance in last weekend’s 4-2 comeback win at West Ham, and Mazzarri offered a ringing endorsement of the Argentina international’s qualities.
“As a principle I fall in love with my players,” he said. “They are very important. Pereyra is a great player, he runs from side to side, has great qualities and was the player I wanted. If I had to choose, I’d pick Pereyra.
“But Pogba is a champion. He is a very young player and this may have an influence on him adapting a little slower after changing team.
“Everything is new for him at the moment but with one play he can change the result.”
Former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher believes Pogba’s problems at United stem from Jose Mourinho having selected him in a deep-lying central midfield two during league matches for United, pointing out that the best football of his career came in a three at Juve.
Even if it means dropping other high-profile stars, Carragher thinks Mourinho needs to give Pogba the extra support in central areas that helped the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Yaya Toure to become Premier League greats.
“The Pogba I saw for Juventus was able to run free and wreak havoc because he had Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio chaperoning him, giving him protection and guidance, but I was a little bit disappointed with him when I saw him play in a two for France at Euro 2016,” he wrote in a column for the Daily Mail.
“There were flashes of brilliance but he seemed more interested, at times, in doing the flicks and dribbles you would associate with a No 10. That’s very unusual for a central midfielder. I never saw him grab a match by the scruff of the neck and stamp his authority on it.
“So what does Mourinho do? He has gone with 4-2-3-1 but Pogba has struggled to play in that system for United and France. If he reverts to 4-3-3 there will be ramifications for other players, notably Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Wayne Rooney, who is currently playing as No 10. But should a manager have to change to fit in one player? If they cost £90million, then the answer is ‘yes’.
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