Trying to work out just how much Watford have spent during this window is akin to attempting to get inside the head of Valon Behrami when he goes charging into tackles he has no hope of winning.
BBC Sport are claiming Watford spent £34m in the winter window, trumpeting the Hornets as the ‘top January spenders’. Sky Sports have the figure much lower, down at £18.2m while Sporting Intelligence went for somewhere in between, quoting a figure of £26.1m.
The truth is we may never know and, as always with these things, it probably lies somewhere in between. Transfermarkt website is a widely used and reputable source and they have the figure as a precise £18,918m without factoring in what the club paid Udinese, one of their sister clubs, for Adalberto Peñaranda.
And herein lies the problem. French media are reporting Rennes’ decision to sell Abdoulaye Doucouré yesterday would net them €10m (around £8m), making it a club record transfer for the Hornets. Watford, however, briefed the media this morning that the deal did not in fact set a new club high and was worth much less, around £4m. The fee, they said at the same time, for Penaranda was about the same, €6m (£4.55m). The Mario Suarez fee was officially announced by the club as undisclosed. We now know it was €6m. There was not even a mention of a fee for Nordin Amrabat in the official announcement. We were told subsequently it was a club record, between £6.1m and £6.3m. Still with us?
Going back to the summer, Jose Manuel Jurado is widely reported as costing Watford £6m but we’re informed it is more like £4.5m while one source close to the deal to bring Obbi Oulare to Vicarage Road has his fee as high as £8.6m. The club tell us it is around the £4.5m mark. Even taking into account how many contracts and deals are performance related this is quite a wild swing. Perhaps the confusion is because the deals are being agreed in Euros.
What we do know is, according to the club’s report and financial statements for the year ended June, 30 2015, the summer’s transfer activity could cost the club more than £36m. The post balance sheet events capture the significant transactions post June 30, 2015 and include £22.8m in respect of transfers with a further £13.6m dependant on club / player performance. Watford signed Oulare, Jurado, Valon Behrami, Etienne Capoue, Jose Holebas, Adlene Guedioura, Steven Berghuis and Matej Vydra in the summer.
Here are the figures Watford have reported to have paid for players, according to Transfermarkt:
Abdoulaye Doucouré £7.95m
Mario Suarez £3.98m
Costel Pantilimon £488,000
Nordin Amrabat £6.3m
Obbi Oulare £6.17m
Adlene Guedioura £750,000
Steven Berghuis £4.88m
Jose Manuel Jurado £6.4m
Valon Behrami £2.63m
Jose Holebas £1.88m
Etienne Capoue £6.68m
Matej Vydra £6.3m
(No fee supplied: Adalberto Peñaranda)
Free transfers: Giedrius Arlauskis, Allan Nyom, Miguel Britos, Sebastian Prödl)
The significant outlay, to help establish Watford as a top-half club in the Premier League, is offset by the £9m and counting in transfer fees and loan fees for players who are largely surplus to requirements. The Hornets landed a £2.5m loan fee from Reading for Matej Vydra, a combined £4.3m from Sheffield Wednesday for Fernando Forestieri and Lewis McGugan, received a loan fee of £500,000 from Porto for Miguel Layun and a total of £1.75m from Middlesbrough and Birmingham City for Diego Fabbrini. The figures for the loan and sale of players does not include any money received for loan deals that took Gabriele Angella to Queens Park Rangers, Sean Murray to Wigan Athletic, Connor Smith to Stevenage, Uche Ikpeazu to Port Vale and then Blackpool or Daniel Pudil to Sheffield Wednesday. RCD Espanyol will also be expected to pay a fee for the services of Giedrius Arlauskis, likewise with Deportivo and Juanfran.