The signing of Mario Gaspar brings leadership, knowledge and technical ability to Watford, and Rob Edwards refuses to agree that, at 31, the Spaniard falls into the category labeled ‘old’.
Gaspar is one of Villarreal’s top-three all-time appearance makers, won the Europa League and played in the Champions League.
“He’s an extremely experienced player but he’s not an old player – he’s only 31,” said the Watford head coach.
“He’s been at a top club in Europe for years and played a huge amount of games, and now we have him he brings all that to us, and he will really help us.
“His leadership, his knowledge and his understanding of the game are all superb. He can do a lot of jobs on the right side of the pitch, and he brings a lot of different things, different to what we already have in the squad.
“He’s technically very good and an intelligent player. He’s not a flying machine, but at the right times he can link up and get forward.”
Once again, Edwards was involved throughout the process of bringing Gaspar to Vicarage Road.
“Mario is a player that we all identified as being someone we knew would be very good for us,” I explained.
“I was part of that process in identifying him and deciding to move for him. It was very important for me that he fits into the group as a person, and then the decision to sign him was made by all of us involved in recruitment.”
However, the head coach was quick to set expectations about when Gaspar might make his debut.
“Monday might come too soon for him,” he said. “He’s been with us a few days but we still need to let him settle, understand how we want to play and bed into the group.”
Edwards also paid tribute to the very popular Kiko Femenia, who heads in the opposite direction.
“Kiko has been a wonderful player for this club, and I think the timing of this has worked out well for all parties,” he said.
“We didn’t want him to go but it was clear that it was in his best interests, and for his family, that he was able to move back to Spain.”
Meanwhile, with no more exits from the club, Watford fans can expect to see both Ismaila Sarr and Emmanual Dennis involved on Monday.
“They’re both very good players who have been working hard, and while they’re at the club of course we’re going to use them, because they can help us. Why wouldn’t I use them?” said Edwards.
“We’re prepared for if they do move on, we’ve done our due diligence. If and when we need to recruit we’re ready and we will. Until then, I’ll have them to select.”
The impending departure of Samir does leave a gap on the left of defence, but Edwards is not unduly concerned.
“Ideally we would have balance all over the pitch,” he said. “It’s not the worst thing in the world if we don’t have that, because we adapted against Southampton and I was very happy with what I saw.
“We’re still looking at the possibility of one or two signings. Things are ongoing but I don’t see there being wholesale changes. We have players we are looking at, not just in defense but in other areas.”