Watford have withdrawn from the running to sign Emmanuel Adebayor but are interested in signing Andros Townsend, one of his former teammates at Tottenham Hotspur.
The Hornets explored the real possibility of bringing Adebayor to Vicarage Road on a deal until the end of the season in what would have been a real coup. Both the chief executive Scott Duxbury and Quique Sanchez Flores met the player separately. They were both convinced the 31-year-old had a hunger to still play at this exalted level and possesses the attitude required to fit into this close-knit, disciplined Watford squad.
The financially-prudent club were confident of striking a deal with Tottenham to pay a just over a third of his £110,000 wages, with Spurs picking up the rest until the end of the season when his deal runs out. However, Watford’s league position and form of their players, particularly the front two, has meant a slight recalibration in their targets and means they are able to have one eye on next season and do not need to recruit with the short-term aim of survival in mind.
A striker with top-flight experience is still very much on the shopping list, either in January or in the summer, but the age profile will now be somewhere between that of Obbi Oulare, 19, and Odion Ighalo, 26, while the length of the contract will be much longer. The club still retain huge faith in Oulare and Sanchez Flores spoke last week how he is fitter, stronger and a more rounded player than when he arrived from Club Brugge. He’s been on the bench in each of the last three games and would have made his first appearance, against Manchester United, had Troy Deeney not scored from the spot.
Townsend, meanwhile, is one of several players on the shortlist drawn up in the search for the wide player Sanchez Flores is desperately seeking. Watford have played without any natural width in the last three matches and although nine points were yielded, the head coach wants a natural wide player to increase his tactical options. He was close to getting Joaquin in the summer but lost out to Real Betis.
Townsend has the characteristics of power and pace Sanchez Flores is looking for and can fill the one home-grown spot in the Premier League squad Watford did not fill when they submitted their squad in January. Negotiations are believed to be at a very early stage and may hit a roadblock if Spurs view Watford as the most unlikely threat for a Champions League spot. The Hornets are just one point off the top four and play Spurs on Monday.
At 24, Townsend has a lot of development still left in him and is not considered anywhere near his peak. He was sent back to Spurs early from a loan spell in Watford in early 2011 but he is believed to have matured since. The views of Etienne Capoue and Heurelho Gomes, former teammates of Townsend, will no doubt be sought.
The signing of an England international, for a club who have traded largely in the foreign market, would represent a huge statement of intent. Southampton have also held a long-standing interest in the player.