Quique Sanchez Flores has confirmed his admiration for Juan Manuel Iturbe as Watford continue to size up whether to move for the Roma forward or Emmanuel Adebayor.
Watford’s power brokers are completely relaxed about the prospect of any transfer dealings next month, confident that if they were able to attract a player of the calibre of Etienne Capoue in the summer when they were being tipped as relegation fodder then players are going to be queuing up to sign for a team established in the top half of the Premier League. We understand agents who were reluctant to send their players to Watford before a Premier League ball was kicked are now telling high-ranking people at the club they see Vicarage Road as a very attractive destination.
The Hornets are shopping in an even bigger pool than they did in the summer and it speaks volumes for the strides they have made that Iturbe, who cost £17.4m last year, and Adebayor, who has commanded £37m in transfer fees, are even considering joining the club.
Roma’s sporting director confirmed informal talks have been held over Iturbe’s availability while chief executive Scott Duxbury and Sanchez Flores have held meetings with Adebayor. The head coach did not want to talk about Iturbe this morning when asked by Sky Sports – “I normally don’t talk about players that don’t belong to Watford” – but when pushed by WD Sport, he said:
“He is a very good player. He has power, he shoots, he can cover different positions. He is a good player but at the moment he is not a player of Watford so we need to respect Roma and wait a little bit.”
Watford cannot officially open talks with Roma or the player until the window opens two weeks today and they are, we are told, keen to see how the squad emerges from the hectic festive period, and indeed how many of the peripheral players are used and how they perform, before making their move.
History show Sanchez Flores has only used the January market once during his extensive coaching career to fortify his squad – and that was in his first job at Getafe.
“My experience in the winter market is different to the summer,” he said. “You need to be completely right [when you sign a player in January]. If not, it’s better to keep and wait. I don’t remember signing a lot of players in January. If you need to sign a lot in January it is because something is wrong.”
Sanchez Flores has more say on transfers than Gianfranco Zola, Beppe Sannino or Slavisa Jokanovic as his bosses know it could be foolish not to tap into the contact list of someone who has worked at Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Benfica. While chief scout Filippo Giraldi, sporting director Luke Dowling, consultant Nicola Salerno and Gino Pozzo will compile a shortlist of targets and Duxbury, amongst other things, checks any deal stacks up financially, Sanchez Flores provides his input and likes to meet any player before a deal is agreed.
“I love to meet the player,” he said. “For me the eye contact is important and the smell and the touch. I like to test them.”
Watford signed Luke Simpson, 21, this week to boost their goalkeeping resources but another senior gloveman may still arrive.
“We check in January,” said the head coach.
Asked whether Simpson, once he is registered with the Premier League in January, or Nathan Gartside will be the No 3 behind Heurelho Gomes and Giedruis Arlauskis, Sanchez Flores said: “It is not a question of numbers. You know what is the experience of [David] De Gea when I was at Atletico Madrid. He was No 3 [when I arrived] and finally he is No 1. It’s important to retain good young players for the club. I am happy with the signing [of Simpson].”