Watford have taken to the Premier League like a duck water since their promotion, with manager Quique Sanchez Flores a strong contender for the Manger of the Year award.
The Hornets have looked solid throughout the season, barring a dip in form as 2015 slowly become 2016, though look to have returned to the solidity they showed before.
Their activity in the transfer market over the summer saw a host of international players arrive in Hertfordshire, most of whom have integrated well into life at Vicarage Road. They’re fast becoming a club with a cosmopolitan feel under the astute leadership of the former Atletico Madrid boss.
Perhaps nothing has yet been so indicative of the transition than the recent signing of Fiorentina midfielder Mario Suarez.
His arrival in January was lost somewhat amid the media frenzy that engulfs the footballing community as the transfer window edges closer to closing. However, make no mistake, this particular deal shows how far not only Watford, but the Premier League as a whole, have come.
Though his brief spell in Tuscany was relatively disappointing for a player of such talent, the 28-year old is a top class performer. He might not be the most glittering of attacking superstars, but the fact a newly promoted side, no matter how well they’re doing, can attract a man who only recently was a huge part of Atletico Madrid’s title winning side is exciting.
Having made his name under Flores while the two worked together in the Spanish capital, he’s a big name player with a big reputation. However, amid the vast array of illustrious Spanish midfielders, it would be fair to say that the La Roja international is not as well known as some of his countrymen.
With that in mind, here are FIVE things Watford fans should know about Mario Suarez…
As you might expect from a modern day Spaniard, Suarez is at ease with the ball at his feet. While not a typical deep-lying playmaker, the 28-year old keeps things ticking over in the middle of the park.
He struggled at Fiorentina due to the fact the Serie A side tend to enjoy swathes of possession, whereas at Atletico Madrid, it was all about hitting teams on the counter.
In fact, when deployed centrally in a 4-4-2, he excelled as Los Rojiblnacos won the La Liga title under Diego Simeone.
Having him just in front of a solid back four, the Hornets can expect him to be at the heart of some swift transitions from defence and attack. With Troy Deeney dropping deep, the notion of him linking up with his new captain as star striker Odion Ighalo breaks behind enemy lines is hugely exciting.
Though we can wax poetic on his ability on the ball, Suarez is no passenger who can simply pick a pass.
At his best during the 2013/14 season in Spain, he amassed on average 2.3 tackles and 1.5 interceptions per 90 mins of La Liga action. His robust, physical style allows him to effectively protect a back four and act as a shield in the middle of the park.
While his stats worsened somewhat during his stint with La Viola, it is important to consider he was adapting to a new league and a vastly different style of play.
Still, he managed 1.1 tackles and 0.7 interceptions during his brief stint with the Serie A outfit.
He’s sure to fit right in with the pressing philosophy at Vicarage Road and isn’t likely to be overawed by the bustling style of life in the Premier League.
Just how quickly Quique Sanchez Flores has implemented his philosophy onto proceedings in Hertfordshire has been mightily impressive.
Though his appointment in the summer was met with a certain degree of skepticism, the stylish Spaniard has dispelled any doubts we may have had about him.
As he continues at the helm, the partnership between himself, his players, and the club as a whole is likely to flourish, barring any huge breakdown in communication.
The signing of Suarez, a player whose talent Flores is extremely well versed with, is a huge step in combating such a breakdown.
‘He has the kind of qualities I love’, revealed the Watford boss.
‘He plays good football, understands the position of midfield, he’s positive and energetic.’
Clearly, he’s a man trusted to perform by the Watford coach.
At 28 years of age, a player of such quality with such an illustrious trophy haul behind him will have no doubt been disappointed his move to Tuscany did not yield much in the way of success.
After all, he left Madrid to move, a huge step for a man who had spent the entirety of his career there up until then. Feasibly, he could have stayed with Atletico for many more years, though opted to search for first-team football elsewhere.
He stressed the need for a new challenge while in Italy, the sound of a man still hungry to succeed in the game.
However, it did not work as planned. So, Suarez still has a point to prove.
A tantalising prospect for all those involved at Vicarage Road.
While the sheer nature of the Premier League has taught us to never judge a player solely off their past success, it’s important to at least consider the nature of Suarez’s impressive pedigree.
By no means is he a regular at international level, the mere fact he has earned three caps for Spain speaks volumes about his quality. Amid their plethora of midfield options, even being recognised by La Roja is indicative about just how good a player he is.
At club level, however, is where we can really start to understand how high a level he has played at. During his time at Atletico, having progressed through their youth systems, the 28-year old won pretty much all you can win.
One La Liga title, the Europa League, a Copa Del Rey and two UEFA Super Cups make up his trophy haul, as well as being a runner up in the Champions League.
Again, its important to remember how unforgiving the Premier League has been to decorated imports before, but the fact he has such top class experience is a huge sense of optimism.