Walter Mazzarri has stamped his mark on this Watford side by recommending the signing of Juan Camilo Zuniga, the versatile wing-back he coached at Napoli who is fundamental to the 3-5-2 formation he favours.
Napoli had paid Sienna €8.5m for Zuniga in the summer before Mazzarri took over Napoli in October 2009 and along with Valon Behrami and Miguel Britos, was part of the side who qualified the club for the Champions League and led them to their first piece of silverware and their best finish since the days of Diego Maradona two decades ago.
Zuniga played on the left when Napoli were at their peak, with another reported Watford target, Christian Maggio, occupying the right wing-back spot, but the Colombian is capable of playing on both sides.
Signing for Watford on a season-long loan, for a likely loan fee, before the deal turns into a permanent three-year deal, the 30-year-old goes against the younger age profile the club were looking to recruit this summer but his capture is an indication of just how central he is to Mazzarri’s plans. Jose Holebas looks tailor-made for the left wing-back spot so Zuniga looks likely to assume the spot on the right where Nordin Amrabat, Ikechi Anya and Almen Abdi have filled in so far on pre-season.
Most remembered on the international stage for the challenge in the quarter-final that ruled Neymar out of the rest of the last World Cup, Zuniga’s arrival will cast doubt over the Hornets future of Juan Carlos Paredes who is reportedly attracting interest from Turkey. Watford now have 22 foreign players on their books and five of these will miss the cut and be sold or loaned as you are only allowed to name a maximum of 17 in a 25-man Premier League squad.
Watford’s foreign players:
Heurelho Gomes, Allan Nyom, Miguel Britos, Valon Behrami, Matej Vydra, Steven Berghuis, Almen Abdi, Odion Ighalo, Sebastian Prodl, Jose Holebas, Etienne Capoue, Giedrius Arlauskis, Juan Carlos Paredes, Daniel Pudil, Essaid Belkalem, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Mario Suarez, Costel Pantilimon, Nordin Amrabat, Adlene Guedioura, Juan Camilo Zuniga, Christian Kabasele.