Watford are prepared to make Inter Milan’s Juan Jesus the most expensive defender in their history and possibly even their club record signing.
WD Sport has learned Jesus, the 24-year-old Brazilian, is a top summer target for the Hornets and they are confident they can lure him to Vicarage Road amid interest from Beskitas and Marseille. The fact Jesus has worked under new boss Walter Mazzarri at Inter will increase the Hornets’ chances.
Jesus has another two years left on his contract at Inter so a move for him would certainly eclipse the £1.88m – a record for a defender – they paid last summer for Jose Holebas. Some put Jesus’ value at around £7m, which would top the money wired to Malaga for Nordin Amrabat.
Centre-half is certainly an area the club are keen to strengthen. With Joel Ekstrand set to depart on a free transfer, Miguel Britos, Craig Cathcart and Sebastian Prodl are left as the only senior central defenders. Injuries to Cathcart and Britos ahead of the Leicester City home game, forcing Sanchez Flores to play Nathan Ake and Prodl as a makeshift pairing, demonstrated the need to fortify this key area.
Watford had explored moving for Raul Albiol this summer and reuniting him with Britos, but the exit of Sanchez Flores, who worked with the Napoli centre-half at Valencia, has seen that moved shelved. The fact Jesus can play centre-half or at left-back makes him perfectly suited to playing on the left-hand side of the back three Mazzarri favours.
The fact Watford are confident of luring a player away from the mighty Inter Milan shows the level they are operating at these days. It’s a far cry from 1983 when they saw their top striker, Luther Blissett, head the other way to join the red half of Milan.