WD Sport understands Porto are set to activate their €6m option to sign Miguel Layun permanently from Watford this week.
The Mexico international, who will compete in the Copa America this summer, surprisingly left the Hornets on loan during the final days of the summer transfer window for Porto, who paid a €500,000 loan fee for his services.
Layun has impressed during his year with the Dragons, claiming 19 assists in all competitions and scoring six goals. As a result, Porto have decided to sign Layun permanently.
“I’d like to stay,” Layun told Record. “I’ve said it before, I’m happy at Porto. I’ve enjoyed it a lot despite some difficult moments we’ve had in the season. But we were eager to win a title. For me the door is open, now we have to wait for a decision.”
Porto must must notify Watford by May 31 of their intention to trigger the €6m clause and then pay the Hornets €3 million within 15 days of exercising the option. A further €3 million would be paid on July 31, 2017.
Watford negotiated a 20 per cent sell-on clause in the deal if Layun is sold by Porto for a fee exceeding €6.5million. The Hornets could quickly see a return on that clause, with reports in Portugal claiming Porto may sign Layun from Watford only to then sell him on to Real Madrid, who have apparently been watching him closely during the season.
Layun says he is aware of Real’s reported interest but stresses his initial concern is ensuring his move to Porto goes through in the coming days.
“What I know is from what I’ve read in the papers,” he said. “But I made sure to keep completely focused on my work. When I get to Mexico I’ll talk to my agent and then I’ll ask him what will happen in the future. However, the main thing is to know what will happen at FC Porto. I am only focused on playing, meeting the expectations and doing my job on the pitch, the rest was with my agent. Now, with more calm, he’ll make me aware of what happened in these weeks and see if there is any news.”
Layun will leave Watford having only made 21 appearances for the Hornets. He was signed from Mexican side Club America, via Granada, in January 2015 but found it difficult in the rough and tumble of the Championship, Slavisa Jokanovic’s insistence on playing him in the centre of midfield didn’t help. He started the 2015-16 campaign promisingly under Quique Sanchez Flores, playing in four of Watford’s first five games of the season and scoring on the opening day against Everton at Goodison Park.
His departure therefore came as a surprise, especially to Sanchez Flores who told us in March he wasn’t sure Layun wanted to leave Vicarage Road. “Layun is an amazing professional and a very good player,” said Sanchez Flores. “I wanted him to stay with us and I am not sure he wanted to move. The agent I think wanted to move the player. Layun wasn’t sure. I spoke to him before he left and he said he wanted to play in the Premier League with Watford.”
We spoke to Layun after Porto’s Champions League tie at Stamford Bridge – and he admitted the switch caught him on the hop. “Things happened very quick,” Layun told us in December. “I spoke with my agent and we had a very good offer that came from Porto. I decided to come here. I do not regret any decision I take. It was a hard decision because it was very special for me to play in the Premier League, but things happen for a reason.”
Many will note how Layun played at right-back and left-back for Porto when they lost to Chelsea and wondered if Watford would have been better off retaining his services. But few could have envisaged the struggles Allan Nyom and Juan Carlos Paredes would have at right-back or indeed how Jose Holebas and Nathan Ake would be left out of the side towards the back end of the season. Watford could not keep Layun even if they wanted to now, as the buy-out option is in Porto’s favour, but the recruitment team have been working away in a bid to fortify the full-back positions for some time now and they are confident, with the power the Premier League money gives them, of securing at least one significant upgrade. It may, however, be more of a wing-back role given Walter Mazzarri’s liking for a 3-5-2 formation.