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How much Watford paid Sunderland for Costel Pantilimon

Watford are known for their judicious dealings in the foreign transfer market but they pulled off a real coup in the English market in January.

We can reveal the Hornets signed Costel Pantilimon on a free last month, a deal that must rank among the shrewdest of the Pozzo era given the respected Transfermarkt website have the Romanian international’s market value as £4.5m. Pantilimon, a Premier League winner and with Champions League experience, is set to start his second game in a Watford shirt, against Leeds United in the FA Cup on Saturday.

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The official announcement had the fee as undisclosed but we are told the Hornets snapped him up for nothing, despite the fact he had two-and-a-half years left on his contract at Sunderland. Pantilimon signed a three-and-a-half year deal at Vicarage Road.

The hasty nature of his exit from the Stadium of Light suggests there was a fall out between him and the manager, Sam Allardyce. Pantilimon played in the 3-1 defeat at Chelsea on December 19 but did not feature thereafter, not even on the bench.

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“It is a strange situation,” Pantilimon said. “I don’t really know what happened in the last three weeks. I had a discussion with the manager but I didn’t feel that reflected the reality. It is his call though. I don’t want to discuss it too much because I have a lot of things to say that maybe I shouldn’t. So I’ll leave it like this.

“I think I did a good job there and I still have a good relationship with people at the club and my teammates. But I chose to come to Watford and I think that was the best deal for my future.”

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As we first reported last month, Pantilimon was heading for Monaco until he met Watford’s chief executive Scott Duxbury on the Sunday before the game at Swansea City.

“You said [I almost joined Monaco] – I didn’t say that,” Pantilimon said. “I have to think what I want and for me the best was to stay in the Premier League. I love so much is what is happening here. The Premier League is the best league in the world and I like it here a lot. It is my fifth year in England and I think it’s the best option for me to continue my career.

“Watford are a new club in the Premier League but they are building and want to be in the Premier League for a long time in the future. That is exactly the reason I choose Watford.”