Real Madrid first up for Watford new boy Abdoulaye Doucoure

Abdoulaye Doucoure will face a tough baptism as an adopted player at Granada as his first game is against Real Madrid.

Watford’s big-money January signing has been immediately been sent to the Spanish arm of the Pozzos footballing empire as Watford have the full quota of foreign players and Quique Sanchez Flores had not planned on integrating the France Under-21 midfielder into his squad, instead preferring to welcome him in the summer with open arms and fully assimilate him during pre-season into his rapidly-changing squad. Watford had to move fast to tie up the deal for the France Under-21 international to avoid losing their long-time target to Liverpool.

Picture from Sky Sports HQ

Sanchez Flores is sceptical about the ability to move seamlessly from the Dutch, French and Belgian leagues to England, so he will be delighted that Doucoure, who has spent six years in France, is being sent to Spain to work under Jose Ramon Sandoval, the Granada head coach. Granada sit third bottom in La Liga and face the might of Real Madrid at home on Sunday. Giedrius Arlauskis also made his bow for his new loan club against Cristiano Ronaldo et al, conceding six as Zinedine Zidane’s team ran riot against RCD Espanyol yesterday.

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Granada also have remaining games against Valencia and Atletico Madrid, two of Sanchez Flores’ former clubs, so Watford’s Spanish head coach will have plenty of people in Spain to keep him up to speed on how his new signing is performing. Doucoure, 23, will sign off his short spell at Granada against Barcelona on the final day of La Liga season.

“The opportunity to sign Abdoulaye Doucouré now was one we wanted to act upon, given our long-standing interest in the player,” Watford’s chief executive Scott Duxbury told the club’s website. “He is very much part of Watford’s future plans, and in the time between now and pre-season he’ll be experiencing high-level competitive football in Spain.”

Watford’s likely Premier League squad

Foreign players

Heurelho Gomes

Costel Pantilimon

Allan Nyom

Miguel Britos

Sebastian Prödl

Jose Holebas

Juan Carlos Paredes

Joel Ekstrand

Mario Suarez

Valon Behrami

Etienne Capoue

Adlène Guedioura

Jose Manuel Jurado

Almen Abdi

Nordin Amrabat

Steven Berghuis

Odion Ighalo

Foreign players to be dropped from previous list: Victor Ibarbo, Giedrius Arlauskis, Alessandro Diamanti, Essaid Belkalem

TOTAL:  17

Home-grown players

Craig Cathcart

Ikechi Anya

Ben Watson

Sean Murray

Troy Deeney

Rene Gilmartin

Home-grown players dropped from previous list: Connor Smith, Lloyd Dyer


Unlimited number of under-21 players, including

Obbi Oulare

Tommie Hoban

Nathan Ake

Nathan Gartside