Watford have made it known they are prepared to spend as much as €2om to replace Roberto Pereyra, who is out for even longer than the club feared.
The early signs were that Pereyra would be out for three to four months but Walter Mazzarri has since been told by his medical department that the Argentine will not play again this season after damaging the lateral meniscus in his left knee. The news comes as a body blow to the club and the team.
Pereyra will, as a result, not be named in the rejigged Premier League squad for the second half of the season on February 1, freeing up a spot for a foreign player spot for a new recruit. The search for someone to help fill the void created by the injury to Pereyra is well underway, with agents and intermediaries told the club would be prepared to pay €2om for a similar creative player.
The club sought to add to Sofian Boufal and Wilfried Zaha to the mix last summer but Southampton trumped Watford’s offer, both in terms of financial package and transfer fee, for Boufal, while Steve Parish, the Crystal Palace chief, drove a hard bargain over Zaha so Watford walked away from the deal.
The club had wanted to do minimal business this January – and they still might if they can find an attractive and preferable loan deal – but players of the calibre of Pereyra don’t come cheap, so the injury to the club-record signing has prompted a recalibration of the transfer plans. Yacine Brahimi, the Algerian artisan, is one name that has been mentioned. The Pozzos had him at Granada and sold him to Porto in 2014 for €6.5 million.
There is also a feeling inside the base at London Colney that they might also need a more orthodox, athletic midfielder to help ease the over-reliance on Valon Behrami and Etienne Capoue.
Adlene Guedioura has been considered as the only energetic alternative and he’s been used as the back-up midfielder of choice as Walter Mazzarri clearly doesn’t fancy Ben Watson or Abdoulaye Doucoure. Watson, 31, is likely to ask to leave as he wants to be playing at this stage of his career while Doucoure is resigned to the fact that he will be loaned or sold, probably to a club in France.
Technical director Filippo Giraldi and sporting director Luke Dowling will also be charged with finding new homes for Giedrius Arlauskis and Juan Carlos Paredes but the chances of moving Brice Dje Djedje on will be slim as we understand he’s suffered a setback in his recovery from a pre-existing foot injury and won’t feature anytime soon.