Watford have opted against following up their interest in signing Juan Manuel Iturbe on loan with a formal offer after holding talks with the player and his representatives today. They have not, contrary to reports, been outbid for the player by Bournemouth.
The Argentine forward, 22, flew into Heathrow early this morning, with a party that included his agent Pierpaolo Triulzi, in a bid to force through a move to Watford. The loan fee and percentage of his Roma wages were well within the Hornets’ financial reach.
Watford’s reasons for not taking Iturbe, one of countless players they are being offered and linked with, given their lofty position, are thought to be two fold. The Hornets told the player’s representatives earlier this evening they would not be taking negotiations any further. He is now being linked with a move to Eddie Howe’s team.
Iturbe had the first part of a two-part club medical that usually takes place at a clinic in Harley Street. The second part, held at the training ground, is not carried out until the club’s key decision makers have rubber-stamped the deal. While the results were being pored over, Iturbe met Watford’s chief executive Scott Duxbury and Quique Sanchez Flores and held lengthy talks, lasting most of the day. The Grove has previously been used as a venue for such discussions.
Sanchez Flores told us on Friday about his admiration for the player – “He is a very good player. He has power, he shoots, he can cover different positions,” he said – but the Spaniard sets more stall on the character of a player than most coaches and spoke late last week of how “the eye contact is important and the smell and the touch”. “I like to test them,” he said.
It was, for this reason, why nobody at Vicarage Road was getting ahead of themselves about a deal being finalised to bring him to Watford, despite the noises coming out of Italy.
Watford are in no panic to rush any deal, particularly in this shortened window, and are, if necessary, content to continue with what they have if the right financial deal and right character does not present itself. They would ideally like to recruit a winger, a forward and a goalkeeper but will not risk jeopardising what Sanchez Flores has worked so hard to cultivate in the first four months of the season.
It is thought Iturbe wanted certain guarantees about where he would start in Sanchez Flores’ team and this rang alarm bells. Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo are nailed on for two of the four attacking spots while Jose Manuel Jurado, a player Sanchez Flores sees as so central to his plans, and Almen Abdi, who was magnificent on Sunday, filled the other two against Liverpool. The head coach also has Obbi Oulare, Steven Berghuis, Adlène Guedioura, Alessandro Diamanti and Victor Ibarbo waiting in the wings, players who have spent the first half of the season waiting patiently for their chance and who fully understand the pecking order and integration process. You have to work damn hard to get into this side.
The owner Gino Pozzo, Duxbury, sporting director Luke Dowling, chief scout Filippo Giraldi and Sanchez Flores are all in complete agreement that someone will only be added to this high-energy, humble squad if they are of the right quality and character. One of the few mistakes they made in the summer window was signing Jose Holebas, ironically also from Roma, who never really had his heart set on a move to Watford. He will be moved on next month if a taker is found.