Nine Premier League possibilities at Pozzo pet project Watford
Following Watford’s promotion to the Premier League (6/5 with Coral to stay up next term), ending an eight-year top-flight absence, and after they beat Brighton with other Championship results going their way, Coral football experts began to wonder about who they could capture this summer?
As the Hertfordshire team are owned by the Pozzo family, who also hold controlling stakes in La Liga side Granada and Serie A outfit Udinese, and players from these sister clubs have already been loaned to them, we could well see more of this.
Putting our heads together, we’ve come up with nine players from throughout Watford’s extended family that we would like to see in the Premier League. They could potentially help the Hornets make a top 10 finish at 12/1.
On the occasion of his 100th Serie A outing, Ghana midfielder Badu netted the winner against AC Milan on his latest Udinese appearance. Still only 24 and with this much experience under his belt, the time may now be right for a crack at a different league.
Many of his compatriots, most notably Asamoah Gyan, Michel Essien, Sulley Muntari and Tony Yeboah, have played Premier League football, so Badu could become the latest to ply his trade in England.
Youssef El Arabi
Leading the line for Granada is often an arduous task, but French-born Morocco frontman El Arabi, 28, has helped keep them in La Liga in recent seasons.
Although a goals to game ratio of just over one in four isn’t great, he is used to a scrap. El Arabi would be well worth considering to bring in as backup behind Troy Deeney, Odion Ighalo and Matej Vydra.
Spanish centre back Cala, who signed a short-term six-month contract with Granada in January, has some Premier League experience during his brief stint with Cardiff City last season.
He proved a set-piece threat, netting twice in seven top-flight outings, and the 25-year-old could hand competition in defence to the likes of Gabriele Angella, Northern Ireland international Craig Cathcart, club stalwart Lloyd Doyley and Swedish talent Joel Ekstrand.
Antonio Di Natale
Udinese scoring sensation and evergreen ex-Italy international Di Natale, now 37, is out of contract this summer, but who among us wouldn’t marvel at seeing such a consistent goal-getter in the Premier League?
His advancing years would mean he may have to play second fiddle to Deeney et al, but a swansong in England at Watford would be wonderful.
Another attacking alternative the Hornets could poach from another outpost of the Pozzo empire is former Blackburn Rovers forward Rochina, now on Granada’s books.
Highly-rated because of youth spells at Valencia and Barcelona, the 24-year-old tasted Premier League relegation at Ewood Park, with Watford odds-on at 8/13 for the drop next term.
Teenage Udinese stopper Scuffet shot to prominence last term when he established himself as first-choice keeper. Since ousted by Greek goalie Orestis Karnezis, a loan spell at Vicarage Road could raise his profile further.
With Azzurri centurion and skipper Gianluigi Buffon now in the autumn of his career, Scuffet could establish himself as Italy’s next number one if he excels. Brazilian custodian Heurelho Gomes has done well at Watford, but was dropped during his top-flight stint at Spurs and this is one area the Hornets must look at.
Romania winger Torje, 25, has had spells with both Granada and Udinese, but was loaned by the latter to Turkish Super Lig side Konyaspor for this season. Catching the eye on international duty with a dozen assists and 10 goals from around 40 caps, he would offer a different dimension to the Hornets.
Although three centre halves and wing backs has been the prevailing tactic under Slavia Jokanovic, Watford would benefit from having other options. Like Scotland counterpart Ikechi Anya, already at Vicarage Road, Torje could offer a real wide threat.
Udinese have Switzerland’s right back in waiting Widmer, who looks destined to take over that berth from Juventus’ Stephan Lichtsteiner in the years ahead. Aged 22, the young pretender has made six assists and scored twice this term across all competitions.
Watford currently have former Lichtsteiner understudy at the Old Lady, Marco Motta, on their books, but Widmer would be a better down down this side and Mexico’s Miguel Layun on the other flank, if they persist with three at the back next term.
Capped eight times by and on three international goals already for Poland, 20-year-old number 10 Zielinski is Udinese-owned, but on loan at Empoli. There is massive potential here, and the Hornets may want another attacking midfield option with Lewis McGugan out of favour.
Almen Abdi and Ben Watson lack prodigous talent Zielinski’s guile, and it’s only a matter of time before he scores a senior goal at club level.