Valon Behrami will not be leaving Watford, despite the rising conjecture about his future.
The tenacious Switzerland midfielder has been linked this month with a move to Italy, where he has spent eight years of his career. Udinese has been touted as a possible option.
“Behrami? From the technical point of view he can be a goal, he would give us added value,” Udinese sporting director Cristiano Giaretta told Sportitalia Giaretta. “We do not want to remove important players from Watford.”
Yet Watford, we are told this evening, have no intention of letting Behrami go just six months after persuading him to leave Hamburg and join them on a three-year contract. The hierarchy and senior coaching staff want him to fight for his place. Quique Sanchez Flores remains a big admirer of the 30-year-old and likes to be able to deploy him, Etienne Capoue and Ben Watson as a midfield triumvirate to close games out.
Behrami could be getting jumpy about his spot in Switzerland’s Euro 2016 squad, especially with the Swiss paired in Group A with Albania, the birthplace of his parents. The speculation may be a result of his agent, Fali Ramadani, trying to demonstrate to Watford there are options for his client who was an unused substitute against Manchester City.
While Capoue and Watson are the defensive midfield incumbents, the relentless and demanding nature of a Premier League season means opportunity is likely knock, whether it be through suspension, injury or a change in tactics, again for Behrami who has not started a game since the fifth Premier League match of the season. Indeed, the fierce competitions for places in midfield is why the club are not desperately chasing Mario Suarez.
Behrami is not thought to be agitating for a move and enjoys living in St John’s Wood with his wife Elena and daughter Sofia.
“Since I left Italy for Hamburg, I wanted to come back to England,” he said in a recent interview with the Independent. “I feel better here, even if I am away from home. The way the people live football here, I like it. I speak five languages so it is easy for me at Watford, I can jump in every discussion. I speak Italian, German, French, English and Albanian.”
Sanchez Flores describes Behrami as “a top professional” and the intensity he trains with and his vast experience makes him a valued member of the squad. A combination of calf and knee injuries restricted Behrami to 26 minutes of Premier League action between the red card against Swansea and his comeback against Liverpool, but he played 76 minutes of the four games over the festive period.
“I started very well and then I got this red card and I had bit of problems [with injury],” Behrami said in an interview last week with Hornets Player. “This can happening in any season. I’m just trying to get more moments and be ready when the manager needs me.”