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Watford hit the buffers in record transfer pursuits

Watford’s ambitious triple swoop to strengthen key areas of the team looks set to fall flat.

Juan Jesus, the Inter Milan defender who Watford tried to make their club record defensive signing, looks poised to join Roma on an initial loan deal with a €9m option to buy. The two teams did business last summer when Adem Ljajic, the Yugoslavian attacker, moved in the opposite direction on a season-long loan deal.

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There are conflicting reports over whether Watford tabled a bid for Roberto Pereyra, the Argentine playmaker at Juventus, but the Hornets withdrew their interest when they learned the player favoured a move to Napoli, the former club of Walter Mazzarri, Valon Behrami and Miguel Britos. Napoli, who did business last summer with Udinese over Britos and Allan, are set to pay Juve €18m for Pereyra.

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And, finally, the club’s bold pursuit of Saido Berahino looks set to be complicated further by the news this afternoon that West Bromwich Albion have apparently offered the forward an improved four-year contract. While the move may be a token one, designed to improve their chances of gaining compensation if he leaves on a free next summer, it increases Berahino’s options, that already include Watford, Stoke City, Leicester City, West Ham and Crystal Palace.

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Our sources are telling us that they can’t see arch negotiators Gino Pozzo and Scott Duxbury paying more than £15m for a player who scored four Premier League goals last season – and missed two penalties against the Hornets at The Hawthorns. Baggies chief Jeremy Peace wants £20m for the 22-year-old. Until Isaac Success was recruited for £12.5m from a club the Pozzo family owned last season, the record fee the family had ever paid for a player was the £8.25m they spent on Stefano Fiore in 1999, showing that despite selling 12 players for more than £10m, they still look for value and don’t pay over the odds for incoming players.

Chief executive Scott Duxbury top left
Chief executive Scott Duxbury top left

“We have done most of the business we wanted to,” said Duxbury in an exclusive interview with us in April. “We saw the players were available and we thought it was prudent to let them bed in now. We don’t want another summer of a massive overhaul. There are clearly areas we do need to improve and we have the resources to do that. We are going to be quite strategic and targeted in which players we want and in which positions. We have built a squad we are happy with. We haven’t seen the best of it and there will be a balance that needs to be struck between keeping together the squad we have created and adding a few players where it’s obvious we are a little weak.”