Watford are going head to head with Newcastle United in the scramble to sign Henri Lansbury in a cut-price deal from Nottingham Forest, we can reveal.
Lansbury is out of contract this summer so can start talking to potential suitors, and it is our understanding Watford have already held discussions with the 26-year-old midfielder. Gino Pozzo, Scott Duxbury and technical director Filippo Giraldi will hope to have persuaded the former Arsenal man that an immediate return to the Premier League is more attractive than another six months in the Championship, albeit playing in front of 50,000 fans and working under Rafa Benitez. Derby County and Birmingham City are also chasing his signature but we understand Lansbury’s options have been whittled down to two.
Lansbury is not necessarily the heavyweight midfielder Watford are crying out for in the wake of injuries to Valon Behrami and Roberto Pereyra and the African Cup of Nations bound Adlene Guedioura and Nordin Amrabat, but, crucially, he will be able to come in and hit the ground running and not require a period of acclimatisation. Significantly, his arrival would not prompt a reshuffle of the revised Premier League squad as he would count as a home-grown player. Watford were three players shy of naming a 25-man Premier League in September as they could only muster five home-grown players. You can name an unlimited number of home-grown players in a squad but only a maximum of 17 foreign players.
The transfer figure for Lansbury is likely to be well below his true market value as the England youth international’s contract runs out this summer, making him even more appealing to the power brokers at Vicarage Road. Watford will have, no doubt, played on Lansbury perhaps wanting to return south in their contract talks. The Enfield-born schemer went to school in Potters Bar; used to share a flat with former Gunners teammate Kieran Gibbs and probably still has friends over the fence at Arsenal. Crucially, Lansbury also knows the Hertfordshire club well having played 38 times for the Hornets in the 2009/10 season.
We gather the Hornets have also been offered Brighton’s Dale Stephens but they consider Lansbury better value for money.