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Watford step up pursuit of three missing jigsaw pieces

Watford are working hard on deals for three new signings as the upgrading of last season’s squad continues apace.

The Hornets have already brought in five new faces this summer and seen January recruit Abdoulaye Doucoure join up with the squad following his loan spell at Granada. However, the recruitment team and Walter Mazzarri have identified three further areas of the team they feel still needs strengthening.

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Walter Mazzarri with chief scout Flippo Giraldi

They want to bring in a centre-half so they have six international defenders competing for three spots. Porto defender Bruno Martins Indi and Zenit St Petersburg’s Nicolas Lombaerts have been heavily linked with a switch to Vicarage Road.

The club are also in the hunt for another box-to-box midfielder, despite having Doucoure, Valon Behrami, Ben Watson, Mario Suarez, Etienne Capoue and Adlene Guedioura on the books. Reports in Italy suggest Mario Lemina, Juventus’ Gabonese midfielder, is their primary target.

Mario Lemina
Mario Lemina

The final, but perhaps most important area, to be bolstered is the attacking midfield role. The club have made no secret of their interest in Sofian Boufal and met the player and his representatives in Austria nearly two weeks ago. The sticking point appears to be the fee for a player who is currently injured and whether the Hornets would be better pursuing an unnamed alternative target recommended by Mazzarri who is capable of hitting the ground running. All the deals are described as being at an advanced and delicate stage.

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Midfielder Ben Watson, who has only started one of the five friendlies, is assured of his place in the Premier League squad as he counts as a home-grown player, but his game time could be limited if the club pull off deals for two more midfielders.

“If we are bringing in players that are going to improve the team then that can only be good for the football club,” he said. “It’s a team game, it’s not about individuals. If we are going to bring in players and we do better than we did last season then great.”

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If, as seems likely, the trio of signings are non home-grown then that would increase the number of foreign players to 23, meaning six of the names below would miss out on a place in the Premier League and be sold or loaned.

Watford’s foreign players:
Heurelho Gomes, Allan Nyom, Miguel Britos, Valon Behrami, Matej Vydra, Odion Ighalo, Sebastian Prodl, Jose Holebas, Etienne Capoue, Giedrius Arlauskis, Juan Carlos Paredes, Essaid Belkalem, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Mario Suarez, Costel Pantilimon, Nordin Amrabat, Adlene Guedioura, Juan Camilo Zuniga, Christian Kabasele, Brice Dja Djédjé