Quique Sanchez Flores says it will be “completely impossible” for Troy Deeney or Odion Ighalo to be sold this month but conceded three players seeking regular football will leave to make room for new faces.
The head coach has seen the speculative stories linking Deeney with a £20m move to Arsenal and Ighalo with a big-money switch to Manchester United or Atletico Madrid, but he reiterated this morning the club’s firm stance that both will still be Watford players when his team host Chelsea in the first game after the window slams shut.
“It is completely impossible [they will leave],” said Sanchez Flores this morning. “I’m sure it is almost impossible Deeney will abandon the project in the middle of the season. I know Deeney. He is our captain, he manages a lot, he is very important.”
Sanchez Flores was asked if Arsene Wenger had nipped over the fence separating the club’s training grounds to check on the availability of the Watford captain.
“I keep watching Deeney and making sure he does not confuse the road [to our training ground and Arsenal’s],” he joked. “I watch the car of Deeney.”
Watford had a price tag of at least £10m on the head of Deeney in the summer of 2013 and 2014. Does Sanchez Flores feel £20m is the market value for a 27-year-old who has six goals and five assists to his name this season?
“The work of Deeney deserves the kind of price because he is playing well,” said the head coach. “He is the style of an English footballer. I know Deeney four or five months ago and you can detect a passionate player who loves what he is doing every day.”
Deeney reacted to the speculation on talkSPORT this morning.
“My son [Myles] is an Arsenal fan and he was reading the paper with his mum,” Deeney told the Alan Brazil Breakfast Show. “I don’t think he’s happy I’m staying,” he joked. “He doesn’t understand this isn’t Fifa and you can’t change team the same day. We’ve still got a project to complete here.”
Ighalo has made no secret of the fact he is a Manchester United fan and his status as the third top scorer in the Premier League, playing for one of the more unfashionable clubs, means he is inevitably going to be linked with a move elsewhere.
“I love the rumours,” said Sanchez Flores. “It’s very good news for Watford and I am very happy that any club is interested in a player for Watford. It means players are playing really well if we have the focus of other teams.”
While Deeney and Ighalo will remain Watford players until at least the end of the season, several players will leave the club this month. Alessandro Diamanti, Victor Ibarbo and Essaid Belkalem are all expected to head for the exit door.
“Others players deserve to be happy and leave,” said the head coach. “Maybe some players want to be happy and are happy when they play. Some players train and don’t find the space in the first XI or the list to play. I am happy if they are looking for other teams, where they can play and be happy. This is the case for two or three players.”