Watford’s Summer Clear-Out

As we approach the climax of this season’s Premier League campaign, the minds of many fans are already being drawn towards the excitement of the upcoming World Cup. Yet it’s crucial to keep an eye on what goes on at your club as the summer floats by — it’s a season-defining period which, ironically, takes place in the off-season.

Having endured another year of capitulation and, at times, embarrassment, a considerable number of the Watford squad have had their heads called for as fans debate over how to improve the club’s standings next year. But who has done enough to maintain their place in next season’s regime, and who deserves to face the chop in the upcoming three months?

Heurelho Gomes:

The Brazilian shot-stopper had been a regular in Watford’s starting eleven since the Championship days before a back injury saw his place snapped up by the on-loan Karnezis. He is capable of pulling off spectacular saves on his day but is also prone to blinding errors. Gomes is also an authority figure in the dressing room and looks like the individual everyone wants to be around. Adored by the fans, he has now reached an age where the club will likely look elsewhere for a first-choice goalkeeper. It would be nice if he could see out the last year of his contract at the club. Verdict: Keep.

Orestis Karnezis:

Officially on the books of sister club Udinese, Karnezis has impressed since taking Gomes’ place in the team. Though, like his counterpart Gomes, he has a tendency to make baffling errors and will occasionally spill the ball from his hands. He would be the cheap option if we can’t recruit any better alternatives. Verdict: Look elsewhere initially, sign permanently only as a last resort.

Daniel Bachmann:

A player that has clearly been brought in with the future in mind. The Austrian has barely had a look in this season, and with the addition of Pontus Dahlberg he will almost certainly fall further down the pecking order. A loan move would do him good. Verdict: Loan.

Daryl Janmaat:

Formerly of Newcastle, Janmaat is a proven Premier League player and seems capable of performing his duty when called upon. He produces moments of magic going forward yet his tactical ineptitude does seem to be exploited by the opposition’s wingers. A useful player to have. Verdict: Keep.

Kiko Femenía:

Criminally underrated and compulsively professional, the Spaniard has been one of the most consistent and reliable performers over the course of this season. Capable of playing anywhere down the right side of the pitch, he has ridiculed his free transfer to Hertfordshire last summer and become a popular figure amongst the Hornets supporters. Verdict: Keep.

Adrian Mariappa:

The surprise package of this season. Having struggled last year in his first season back at Vicarage Road since 2011/12, the Watford veteran took advantage of injuries earlier on in the campaign and proved that he is still capable of doing the job six years later. While for a central defender he is considered short, the Jamaican makes up for it with his deceivingly impressive jumping reach and his tremendous attitude and commitment. He has done nothing to warrant a sale and is a perfectly capable option in defence. Verdict: Keep.

Younes Kaboul:

Experienced, organised, a physical presence — every team needs a player with those attributes in their ranks. Had it not been for his injury early in the season, Kaboul could have gone on to be an important player for the club — yet he has not been seen since. A shame, considering he barely put a foot wrong when he did play, but we’ll have to move on. Verdict: Sell.

Miguel Britos:

It would be harsh on the Uruguayan to say he is lacking in ability, though he is certainly lacking in composure and quality decision-making. He’s had some crazy moments this season, including a horrendous challenge on Anthony Knockeart. A good servant to the club over three seasons however, just like Kaboul, it’s time to let him go. Verdict: Sell.

Sebastian Prödl:

Last year’s Player of the Season hasn’t quite reached the same heights this year. He possesses incredible aerial ability though fails to utilise this in offensive corners. Prödl has produced the odd game-saving tackle yet looks exposed against quicker players or opposition strikers of a similar height. Keeping him wouldn’t be the worst idea, though you’d certainly hope the Pozzos will bring in too many central defenders to have space for him in the next Premier League squad. Verdict: Sell, if we can afford to.

Christian Kabasele:

Clearly our best centre-back and overall has been impressive this season. A Belgian international, Kabasele is mainly utilised as a ball-playing defender and performs his job admirably. He will need a quality partner alongside him to fully flourish next year. Verdict: Keep.

Craig Cathcart:

A survivor from the Championship squad of 2014/15, Cathcart has been plagued with injuries since 2016 and has subsequently enjoyed the last two seasons less than the majority of his teammates. He has come back into the side in recent weeks and has proved that he is still a solid option at the back. Another popular player from the fans’ perspective, and a nice person to have around the club — he should definitely stay. Verdict: Keep.

Jose Holebas:

The Greek international is one of the most frustrating players currently on Watford’s books. He obviously has technical ability and on a good day can be an adequate option on the left side of defence — though he never has good days. His attitude is horrendous and his age is catching up with him. Holebas has by no means been the worst player at this football club, but now he must leave. Verdict: Sell.

Marvin Zeegelaar:

Signed on Deadline Day of the August window from Sporting Lisbon, the Dutchman has somehow managed to prove that he is worse than Jose Holebas. Thankfully, Javi Gracia has noticed that fact and hasn’t allowed Zeegelaar anywhere near the team. An entirely new left-back department is required for next season; it’s been one of our weakest areas for far too long now. Verdict: Sell.

Etienne Capoue:

Another hugely frustrating case. Capoue is honestly a decent player; he has the physical presence and the technical ability to be a real powerhouse in our midfield. Yet he often seems to waste what has been granted to him by strolling aimlessly around the pitch. He will have one good game followed by three subpar performances. Having said that, Gracia does seem to have turned him into a better player — he can be kept as backup for now. Verdict: Keep.

Nathaniel Chalobah:

It pains me to think how much better this season could’ve treated us had Chalobah avoided his knee injury. He struck an effective and dynamic partnership with Abdoulaye Doucouré at the start of the season, which was often the heartbeat of Watford’s flamboyant attacking football under Marco Silva. Chalobah could well have made Southgate’s World Cup squad had he stayed fit all year. Nevertheless, still a crucial player for us and will hopefully gain a proper year on the pitch in 2018/19. Verdict: Keep.

Tom Cleverley:

Cleverley’s impact on Watford’s system cannot be overestimated. A workhorse in midfield, the former England international does the dirty work in a critical area of the pitch and still possesses the skill to support attacks. Another crucial player and someone who wouldn’t want to leave anyway. Verdict: Keep.

Abdoulaye Doucouré:

It’s already been accepted by Watford fans that the Frenchman will embark on a new journey in the summer, with a pool of elite clubs all eager to secure his signature.  The complete midfield package, Doucouré has been incredible to watch as he’s sported yellow and black over the course of this season. Only a miracle would see us hold on to him now — though I suppose a fee of £40m isn’t too bad for us, either. Verdict: Keep if at all possible, but sell if an irresistible bid comes in.

Will Hughes:

Derby’s decision to let Hughes leave for just £5m becomes more and more intriguing as each game rolls by. Often the bright spark in dire Watford performances, the highly-rated Englishman has lived up to expectations and then some, stating his authority as a valuable asset for the Hornets. The future is bright for Hughes in Hertfordshire. Verdict: Keep.

Roberto Pereyra:

The former Champions League finalist has found his stride for the Hornets this season. Peryera clearly struggles with the physical side of the Premier League, though he makes up for it with his swagger and skill on the ball — much like his compatriot Lionel Messi, some might say. He’s proven why he was a starter for Juventus, justified his transfer fee and is now a crucial player for us. Fingers crossed he will carry his form into next season. Verdict: Keep.

Andre Carrillo:

Has showed signs of promise, though he was a Marco Silva signing and has not had a look in since the Portuguese’s departure. Whether that is down to his rage at Silva’s dismissal or Gracia simply thinking he’s not good enough, Carrillo no longer has a place at Watford Football Club. Verdict: Avoid the option to make the transfer permanent.

Gerard Deulofeu:

The Spaniard had an instant impact as soon as he came into the team, and although an injury kept him on the sideline for a couple of months, he returned recently and reminded the fans of what an effective player he can be. Barcelona have already stated that they intend to sell Deulofeu, while the player himself has made no effort to rule out a move to Hertfordshire in the summer. Watford need to tie this player up. Pronto. Verdict: Sign permanently.

Dodi Lukebakio:

It’s hard to say much about this kid. He arrived from Anderlecht in January but has barely had a run out since. Altogether it seems like a rather pointless transfer. The Pozzos won’t sell him in the upcoming window, so he’ll need a loan move instead. Verdict: Loan.

Stefano Okaka:

At times he looks to be our best striker, though there are doubts over his fitness and, in truth, his ability to fire a team to the top half of the table. Okaka seems to be a player that would be too good for the Championship but won’t cut it for a Premier League side like Watford. Our front line will likely be revamped in the upcoming window; where Okaka goes next will have to be his problem. Verdict: Sell.

Andre Gray:

Because of inflation and the extortionate transfer fees floating about in today’s world I hate to use this argument when discussing the success of a signing, but Andre Gray simply hasn’t lived up to his rather hefty transfer fee. It’s all so clear now why Burnley fans laughed at us when the deal was announced. He makes good runs and he sometimes plays nice passes — but what he never, ever, does is slot the ball home. With a number of clubs eyeing him up, it would be wise to cash in on Gray in the coming months. Verdict: Sell.

Troy Deeney:

Here is the most complicated case of all. Deeney is a player that has influence within the club and tremendous support from the fans — but does that by itself make a striker good enough for the Premier League? His goal tally over the last one and a half years has been atrocious. There is certainly no way Troy should remain first-choice striker for next season, though from a sentimental point of view it would be fine to see him act as the backup option. Verdict: Keep.

Jerome Sinclair:

Why he is still at the club, no one will ever know. Formerly of Liverpool, Sinclair simply doesn’t have the quality to play in the attacking areas for Watford. Take his wages off the bill as soon as possible. Verdict: Sell.

Richarlison:

His heart is set on a move and, to be perfectly honest, mine is set on that too. The fee we could receive for Richarlison would be more than he is worth considering his form in the second half of the season. The Brazilian started so strongly in a Watford shirt and he gave us fans moments to cherish — but he hasn’t been the same player since around December and now he can be on his way. Hopefully, he will go on to be a world-beater, holding to shame the fee we eventually sell him for. Verdict: Sell.

What changes would you make Watford fans? Let us know in the comments below!