Brazil is an unstoppable cradle for talents that have shined in football for decades: Pelé, Romário, Cafú, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho… The list is long. The names that come to our mind nowadays are Neymar, Casemiro or Firmino. This last one has become one of the best “fake 9” of the planet and right now it does not seem like he is going to be the only one to stand out on that position.João Pedro could be the next one.
João Pedro Junqueira de Jesus is the name of a forward that when he was only 17 years old attracted the attention of top European clubs. He beat a record of precocity by scoring seven goals in his first nine games (numbers than overcame Ronaldo Nazario, with six goals in ten matches). Moreover, he had an important role at Fluminense and had outstanding performances not only at the Brazilian league, but also at the Copa Libertadores. He proved this all at a match against Colombian Atlético Nacional the 24th of May 2019: three goals in 33 minutes and an assist.
Watford took him to England in January of this year after reaching an agreement for his signing in October 2018 and keeping him on a loan at his original club. He barely played any minutes during the last few months of competition, but he showed off some quality details on the field, which left a positive impression on the fans.
João Pedro at his introduction in front of the fans. Via WatfordFC.
The Hornets went down to the Championship, whose 2020-2021 season began last Friday. Their first meet was against Middlesbrough. João Pedro, who wears number 10, played the entire for the first time at Watford. He was the reference forward and, despite his young age, proved that he is not afraid to be a leader. He did not hide himself: he always tried to receive the ball and create scoring opportunities.
The Brazilian pearl has not only shown commitment on the field, but also on interviews to the website of the club: “It is important to be strong on the pitch in order to protect the ball. Quarantine was crucial for this aspect. The seven kilograms that I have earned these last few months have helped me to improve on this facet”. He has said that his body shape has provided him with more strength, stability and capacity to keep the ball on his feet.
Among his qualities, he stands out at protecting the fall backwards the goal due to his height (182cm), which he complements with a great game vision: he is able to detect his teammates position while he holds the ball under pressure and builds plays through passes from there. He is also good at dribbling and speeding. It is unavoidable to not compare him to Roberto Firmino. João Pedro, just as his fellow countryman, tends to go to the wings or move back to the second striker position. Like Liverpool´s player, he likes to move around the box.
These abilities. added to his facility to score, have been reasons for what people already talk about him in Brazil. Now after his first game of the season, he has has shown that his performance is still under growth. However, we can´t forget that he is only 18 years old. A football player´s career is long and anything can happen. This season will be a fireproof fro him, as the Championship is a long and tough competition. The spotlights are not on him yet, but that might be a matter of time. Certainly, the development of the Hornets´10 seems to be elite. Hopefully we are right about it.