Almen Abdi left Watford’s pre-season training camp early amid rising talk he is on the verge of leaving the club.
We can exclusively reveal the midfield schemer departed Austria on Friday, a day before the game against Anzhi Makhachkala and ahead of the scheduled return flight on Saturday night.
Abdi was not injured and his early return to England was because Watford accepted a bid for him from The Owls. Sheffield Wednesday, who signed three Watford players last summer, are thought to have won the race for the 29-year-old who will, we are told, sign a three-year contract at Hillsborough. The fee is not thought to be as much as the £3.5m Wednesday spent on Fernando Forestieri, who is three years younger than Abdi.
We understand new head coach Walter Mazzarri was using the week in Austria to not only drill new tactics into his team but also decide which foreign players will be surplus to requirements. Watford need to cut six foreign players from their squad as you are only allowed to name 17 in a Premier League squad.
Watford were hugely successful in pruning their squad last season, commanding more than £9m in transfer fees and loan fees for Diego Fabbrini, Matej Vydra, Fernando Forestieri, Lewis McGugan and Miguel Layun.
Abdi’s departure will be a blow to the fans who have taken him to their hearts since he joined in 2012, making more than a 100 appearances for the Hornets and redefining the art of midfield play in a yellow shirt. His high point was probably this goal against Fulham.