Etienne Capoue has ended a 6 year stay with Watford having joined Villarreal on a permanent transfer. The Frenchman made a total of 181 appearances scoring 14 goals but his journey with the Hornets has resembled those at the club on the whole, a success but also with its fair share of difficulties. I couldn’t help but reflect on a player who for me is Watford’s greatest player we’ve seen under the Pozzo family.
Finding his feet
Capoue has undoubtedly been Watford’s star performer in the last couple of seasons but his time has been far from plain sailing. Signing from Spurs and at the time a record signing of £6 million, Capoue started to show his pedigree under Quique Sanchez Flores. When Watford’s form started to dip so did Capoue’s however what is clear is that the former Toulouse midfielder is best used playing in front of the defence when he can help both break up play and find his teammates with his fantastic range of passing.
We saw this when Flores put him wide in a diamond and he was used as a box-to-box midfielder by Mazzarri. Even though Capoue recorded 7 Premier League goals under the Italian his performances were less influential and for this season quite frustrating. This must’ve led to Marco Silva not fancying Capoue from the start as he preferred to use Chalobah to partner Doucoure. When Silva left it was a perfect match as Javi Gracia got the best out of the 32 year old like he did the whole squad and he reaped the benefits of Capoue who was in his best position and has flourished ever since, being one of the only few players who performed well enough throughout Watford’s complicated relegation last campaign.
Watford’s best Premier League season since 2015 was of course the 2018-19 season where Javi Gracia led the club to an FA Cup Final and a Europa League push before falling short on both fronts. This was however a terrific season on the whole and Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue were the key behind this team.
Playing in an inverted 4-4-2, the two Frenchman bossed midfield’s and despite the club lacking in both boxes, they had the upper hand on most when it came to central midfield. Doucoure at this time was regarded as one of the best players outside the ‘top 6’ but most Watford fans would tell you that Capoue was Watford’s star man and more talented despite virtually no recognition from outside the club.
The best player I’ve seen
Capoue is the best player I’ve seen play in a Watford shirt. His ability to pinpoint long range passes is as good as anything you’ll see in English football and it became so common that we will certainly not take it for granted anymore when having to watch less accomplished players from now on. This is a player that oozes class but also was formidable with his interceptions and cutting out the danger meaning he was as complete as it comes to being a defensive midfielder and we are lucky to have had him. There is no doubting if he had a truly elite mental focus he would not have stayed at Vicarage Road or ever been here in the first place.
We as fans have shared a Premier League journey with Capoue which has seen both highs and lows for both player and club. I believe he was the greatest player during that period and will be sorely missed.
What do you make of these thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!