Quique Sanchez Flores concedes Nathan Ake will seek to win a place in Chelsea’s squad next season and that the arrival of as many as two left-backs in the summer will make “pre-season very interesting”.
Ake will, as was always planned, report for pre-season training with the Blues but the Hornets are resigned to the fact that the Holland Under-21 defender is likely to be a part of the plans of the new manager at Stamford Bridge next season. Watford believe their best hope is landing him again on a season-long loan but there are not too many instances of a young player spending two successive seasons on loan at the same club.
“We understand the situation of every player we have in our squad,” said Sanchez Flores. “Ake is a young player who has made a very good impression this season. It is very normal that he would want to go back to Chelsea and try to earn a place. We respect that. But we can’t talk too much about what will happen in three months.”
One thing that looks certain is that Jose Holebas is heading towards the exit door once more. The Greece international has not been anywhere near the squad for the last two matches and we understand his reassimilation around the turn of the year – “He understood very well, in the last month, we are a family and what it means to be at Watford,” said Sanchez Flores in February – has not been sustained.
Inter Milan left-back Davide Santon and Stefan Stangl, the Rapid Vienna No 3, are two names being linked with the Hornets who already have Adalberto Peñaranda, Isaac Success, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Jerome Sinclair on the way in the summer.
“The next pre-season will be very interesting because there are a lot of players who will be coming,” Sanchez Flores said. “It will be amazing to learn about these players and see how they complement the group. When you have more options it is always better for the coach but it does make it very hard. We can only choose 25 players and it will be difficult for me, just like it was last summer,” Sanchez Flores said. “There are a lot of interesting players for the next season but now we have to talk about and train the players we have in the squad. They are the protagonists of this season. Pre-season is still a long distance away. I don’t want to talk about it too much. We must first achieve our objective.”