Watford transfer wranglings reassuring sign of Vicarage Road ambition
Of all three clubs promoted to the Premier League, it is Watford (11/4 with Coral to finish bottom) that are making the biggest waves in the transfer window, or at least threatening to.
It remains to be seen whether the Hornets (odds-on at 4/6 to be relegated) will add an extra sting to their tail by successfully capturing the big names they are currently being linked to, such as Inter Milan duo Davide Santon and Zdravko Kuzmanovic, but the club can certainly not be accused of lacking ambition.
The Vicarage Road outfit are infamously one part of the Pozzo family football empire, which also encompasses Spanish side Granada and Italian team Udinese, and face a tough task of attracting talent to bolster their top tier survival bid.
If nothing else, the Pozzo’s continental connections seem to have expanded Watford’s scouting network, and both fans and Harry the Hornet will have been encouraged so far by their apparent transfer intent.
All too often after takeovers English clubs can struggle and, following the appointment of Spanish coach Quique Sanchez Flores to amazingly become the Hertfordshire side’s fifth coach in under a year, the future looked both unstable and ominous.
While punching above weight for high-profile signings and offering big wage packets can be a quick way to end up like relegated QPR, Watford’s rumoured targets make sense and, quite simply, they are behaving as though they belong in the top-flight.
Hornets sharpshooters Troy Deeney, Odion Ighalo and Matej Vydra struck 57 times between them in the Championship last term, though the former and club captain is reportedly coveted by Swansea City, and the latter pair are unproven at Premier League level, so Flores may need an able alternative.
This is where rampant Blackburn Rovers frontman Rudy Gestede could step in, to replace, be a partner for, supporting act to, cover or even challenge these for the role of leading man himself. The 26-year-old also netted 20 last season, matching Deeney and Ighalo’s terrific tallies.
See Gestede’s goal haul here:
Watford are also eyeing added threat from the flanks, with a £7m bid accepted for Genoa wingman Diego Perotti, and the Argentine would be a significant coup should he arrive, as current eye-catching wideman Ikechi Anya may return to homeland Scotland with Celtic.
Having impressed in Italy for the Griffin, Perotti would represent a savvy signing, yet Watford may not be done raiding Serie A, as Inter have apparently offered adaptable and solid, if unspectacular, Serbian midfielder Kuzmanovic for a cut-price fee.
Watch Perotti for Genoa:
Convincing former Newcastle United full back Santon to leave his boyhood club for a second stint in England may prove trickier, however, with the Italy international rumoured to have refused the move. Of all the players apparently on their wishlist, luring the Azzurri defender to Hertfordshire would provide real quality to the rearguard, and make the biggest statement.
Goals and flair are all well and good, but Watford will need more than that if they are to make an impact. This is why reported interest in adding further physicality to their midfield is a promising sign, with defensive-minded Tottenham talents Etienne Capoue and Benjamin Strambouli, plus box-to-box Brazil dynamo Paulinho, apparently on the Hornets’ radar, though Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua may have stormed a march.
Though Watford (11/10 to stay up) will not realistically add all these stars in the off-season, that the rumours can be considered credible shows their is a truly promising project in the works at Vicarage Road, and acquiring just a handful of high-profile signings to work with reliable performers such as Heurelho Gomes and Almen Abdi could make their campaign a journey rather than a struggle.