Currently Watford have 21 foreign players over the age of 21-years-old, which means that by the end of the transfer window Quique Sanchez Flores will have to decide which 17 foreign players to include in his squad. This has been the cause of much debate amongst Watford fans, with many favourites from last year potentially being let go of. Talented striker Matej Vydra especially has been in the headlines with offers coming in for the 23-year-old and Flores himself has admitted he is not sure yet where the strikers future lies.
Worries for Watford fans?
The phrase that fans have to trust the manager, and the Pozzo’s, at this time has been said countless times. It is true of course that the Pozzo’s know what they are doing in running this club, however fans do have the right I believe to be upset at the thought of their favourite players from last year leaving the club.
Matej Vydra has scored 36 goals in 83 appearances for the Hornets, but, is yet to kick a ball in this Premier League season and fans are still unsure whether he will feature at all. Fan favourite Fernando Forestieri’s situation is also unclear, with speculation that he is due to move to Leeds United. However he was named on the bench for Watford’s game against Southampton, which came as a surprise to many. Last years regular first-team centre back Gabriele Angella is the latest player rumoured to be leaving Vicarage Road and again he is yet to feature for the Hornets this season.
Other players who fans believe could be on their way out are Daniel Pudil and Juan Carlos Paredes who both played a fair few games last year in Watford’s promotion winning season. Essaid Belkalem who has only played 8 games for the Hertfordshire club isn’t expected to be one of the 17 foreign players registered for the squad come the end of the window.
The fight for positions
Due to the amount of signings the club have made this summer certain players have found themselves waiting for an opportunity on the sidelines, especially in some highly populated positions.
There are currently 9 attacking midfielders all challenging for a spot in the first 11 due to the club signing many players for this position. Steven Berghuis, Alessandro Diamanti and Jose Manuel Jurado have all been added to the Hornet’s squad this summer and this has meant that players such as Matej Vydra and Fernando Forestieri have yet to feature this season. This had not been helped by the fact that players who don’t usually consider themselves attacking midfielders have been made to adapt into this position. Odion Ighalo and Matej Vydra are strikers but Quique Sanchez Flores wishes to deploy them in different roles this season saying that some players have adapted to the change better than others.
Competition is also fierce for the centre back position, with Watford having 8 centre backs contracted to the club all vying for one of the two spots in the team. Sebastian Prodl and Craig Cathcart are favoured so far but Miguel Britos, Gabriele Angella, Tommie Hoban, Nathan Ake and Essaid Belkalem are still all training with the squad. With the 8th centre back being Joel Ekstrand who currently has a long-term injury.
However this situation isn’t as bad as it sounds with Essaid Belkalem likely to leave the club and Nathan Ake probably being used more as a left back than as a centre back.
Positions with a lack of depth?
Turning our attention to the opposite side of things; the lack of depth in some areas. I believe there are two positions where Watford have a lack of options and that is at the striker and right back position.
The club’s strike force last year was probably its greatest asset but since the change from two strikers to just one, a lot of pressure has been put on Troy Deeney. Fans of the Hornets have said that if Deeney gets injured the club could be in trouble, due to the lack of replacements. Although Odion Ighalo and Matej Vydra are strikers, fans worry whether they will be effective in this 4-2-3-1 formation as neither really suit the role of a lone striker.
At the right back position Allan Nyom is really the only defensive right back that Watford have at the moment. Juan Carlos Paredes can play at right back but he may not feature in the squad due to the limit of 17 foreign players. Other options could include Miguel Layun, Ikechi Anya and Tommie Hoban but all of whom are not natural defensive right backs. If things were to get severely desperate at right back, Swiss international Valon Behrami is capable of playing there, however, this would only serve to weaken the middle of the clubs midfield.
So all that remains is to look forward to the close of the window to see how the club deals with any further incomings/outgoings, as well as the foreign players limitation – which could lead for some interesting omissions from the squad. Fans will hope that potential key players aren’t let go of, and, that Quique Sanchez Flores makes up his mind about who he wants to keep in the squad sooner rather than later.