With at least four new faces bound for Vicarage Road in the summer and more likely to follow, Troy Deeney accepts there will be a turnover of the playing staff in the close season as Watford forensically go about upgrading their evolving squad.
The club confirmed in January that Abdoulaye Doucoure and Adalberto Penaranda will join the Hornets in the summer while the signings of attacking weapons Isaac Success and Jerome Sinclair will be announced once the final ball of the season has been kicked. Peripheral Liverpool players Joe Allen and Jordon Ibe have also been linked with a summer move to Vicarage Road this week. We understand Watford’s key decision makers have been made aware of the availability of the pair.
A high-class right-back is certain to be high on the shopping list, as will at least one left-back if Watford do not manage to land Nathan Ake on loan for another year and if they fail to persuade Jose Holebas he does have a long-term future at Vicarage Road under Quique Sanchez Flores. With Joel Ekstrand seriously contemplating the prospect of walking away on a free and Tommie Hoban injured and unproven at this level, a fourth centre-half to provide cover and competition for Craig Cathcart, Miguel Britos and Sebastian Prodl could be explored.
Taking Allen and Ibe out of the equation, that means room will need to be made in the squad for at least seven new additions to the squad. Penaranda, 19, Success, 20, and Sinclair, 19, will be included in the unlimited number of under-21 players Premier League clubs are able to submit yet, more importantly, Sanchez Flores needs to incorporate them into his thinking. Doucoure, 23, will take a spot in the 25-man squad while further shuffling of the pack will need to take place if other senior players are to be accommodated.
“This is football,” said Deeney in an interview with iFL TV. “Not everyone will be here. I will be surprised if, out of [a Premier League squad of] 25, we didn’t have 18 [of those] here next year.”
What about those players who clubs try to lure away, as opposed to those who are surplus to requirements?
“Why leave?” said Deeney. “We’ve got a great team, there is loads happening at the training ground, loads at the stadium. This is only the first season as well and you’ve got to prove yourself again. When you are in the big league you have to prove yourself week in and week out, year in, year out. You’ve got to keep on working.”
With summer changes inevitable we look at which of the named overage players in the squad might be vulnerable under Sanchez Flores.
Heurelho Gomes: Going nowhere.
Costel Pantilimon: Only joined in January.
*Rene Gilmartin: Hugely popular and perfect third choice, if he recovers fully from injury.
Allan Nyom: Will be back-up to a new right-back.
Juan Carlos Paredes: Under threat. Failed to make last two matchday squads.
Jose Holebas: Will need convincing to stay while Sanchez Flores is in charge.
Joel Ekstrand: Set to move on a free transfer.
Sebastian Prodl: No need to find a new landlord for his Cocker Spaniel.
Miguel Britos: The first-choice centre-half…when fit.
*Craig Cathcart: A revelation and a firm part of the plans.
*Ikechi Anya: Could Celtic revive their interest?
Mario Suarez: Signed a four-and-a-half year deal in January.
Adlene Guedioura: Arrival of Doucoure knocks him further down the pecking order.
Ben Watson: Indispensable judging by how the team played against Stoke without him.
Almen Abdi: Not guaranteed to be here when next season kicks off.
Valon Behrami: He’s talked about wanting to return to Italy. 50/50, we’d say.
Etienne Capoue: Loves it at Watford. Going nowhere unless Watford get a stupid offer.
Jose Manuel Jurado: Much to the chagrin of some, he’s here to stay.
Steven Berghuis: What the club do with him this summer will be fascinating. A season-long loan beckons.
*Troy Deeney: Seriously?
Odion Ighalo: Big price tag placed on his head by the club. Smart money on him being here in August.
Nordin Amrabat: Here to stay.
*Sean Murray: Needs to leave to restart his career.
• Denotes home-grown