Watford remain in talks with Jerome Sinclair and his representative about a deal to bring the England youth international forward to Vicarage Road.
The Liverpool winger was used from the start by Jurgen Klopp in the FA Cup third-round win over Exeter City and as a late substitute in the original fourth-round tie against West Ham United. Significantly, Sinclair was not involved in the replay against the Hammers last night, even though Klopp opted for a much-changed and youthful side.
The 19-year-old has rejected the offer of a new contract at Liverpool and can join the club of his choice in the summer. As a result, Watford are free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement without having to get Liverpool’s permission. We are told negotiations with Sinclair’s agent, Aidy Ward, are ongoing. The size of the compensation fee Liverpool will be due will be set by the Professional Football Compensation Committee because the player is under 24 years of age.
Sinclair signed for Liverpool from West Bromwich Albion’s academy at the age of 18 and has been a prolific goalscorer and assist maker for the Reds’ under-21s. The Birmingham-born forward became Liverpool’s youngest ever first-team player when, in September 2012, he came off the bench against West Brom in a Capital One Cup game.
He’s not really kicked on since and it took until March last year for him to make his second senior appearance, ironically against Watford for Wigan in the 2-0 win for the Hornets at the DW Stadium. He made two cameo Premier League appearances off the bench for Liverpool last season and has only been afforded game-time in the FA Cup this season.
“I like Jerome he is a real talent and if he wants to stay with us absolutely no problem,” said Klopp in a press conference last month. “But we cannot force it. You need young players who want to learn and if we can create the situation where it’s the right place to learn that’s good. First of all we need to offer education and training and the opportunity to work with the best coaches and players that we have.
“As a club you can’t make younger players happy it’s not possible. What we try to create is a situation where younger players know that it’s not important to get the highest wages in your life in the first years of your career. It’s more important to get a good education and that’s what we try to do.”
With securing at least another season of Premier League football his top priority, Quique Sanchez Flores has not shown any genuine inclination to blood young players this season. Obbi Oulare, 20, and Steven Berghuis, 24, have not started a Premier League game and have just 89 minutes of league action between them this season.
“Jerome is a very young player and he has skills, no doubt,” added Klopp. “He is very good shooter, but physically it’s not easy for him to survive in a central position in a Premier League game against 6ft 4 in defenders.”
Sinclair, who turns 20 in September, appears way behind Watford new boy Adalberto Peñaranda, 18, in terms of development and being ready for first-team action, especially if the Venezuelan’s sparkling performance against Real Madrid is anything to go by. However, Sinclair would help Watford’s future home-grown quota and could prove to be an asset with plenty of room for growth and resale value if the tribunal sets the fee accordingly.