In the time since Watford’s relegation at the Emirates last July as many as 18 players have moved to Vicarage Road while 20 have departed in some manner. The squad that enjoyed 5 successful years in the Premier League, featuring names like Gerard Deulofeu, Etienne Capoue and Danny Welbeck, has endured large scale changes to adapt to the tough financial climate. With the club’s opening game of the season not too far away Xisco Munoz’s team is near completion, so here are some players to look out for:
The Chilean centre-back arrived at Watford essentially on a free transfer from sister club Udinese. His breakthrough came due to an unconventional number of injuries at centre back on Munoz’s opener in late December, and he since hasn’t looked back. Sierralta started the majority of Watford’s games since his first league start against Norwich and impressed largely due to his incredible aerial ability, as well as his understanding with centre-back partner William Troost-Ekong. What Francisco lacks in pace and ball-playing ability he more than makes up for in defensive ability, and for that reason, he could prove pivotal for the Hornets this campaign.
Louza arrives from Nantes as the club’s most expensive signing since Ismaila Sarr. The versatile midfielder was originally expected by many to operate in an advanced role similar to the one Philip Zinckernagel played last season, although he may serve as the Will Hughes replacement the club so desperately need. The Frenchman offers a range of playmaking abilities both from open play and set pieces, particularly his impressive passing range, and it will be interesting to see how Xisco Munoz believes he can get the best out of him.
The boy from Brazil. The only thing stopping Joao Pedro from lighting up the Premier League this season is the signing of Joshua King and the presence of Troy Deeney. Pedro boasts an array of talent: impressive technical ability, fitness levels, versatility and hold-up play. The alarming rate of his development in his first season in English football was clear for all to see. In terms of talent, not many in this squad come close, especially in the striker department. With the ability to play upfront and on either wing Pedro is guaranteed minutes this coming season and from there it’s up to him to show his ability on the biggest stage.
It goes without saying that Ismaila Sarr is a player to look out for. The Senegalese winger has enjoyed two successful seasons at Watford, finishing as the club’s top scorer and player of the season in 20/21. Sarr is lightning fast and can finish with both feet, making him a nightmare for any full-back, but coupled with the playmaking abilities of Joao Pedro and Imran Louza he could really blow up this season.
Completing what could be a very entertaining front three, Hernandez arrives from Watford after a series of loan spells in Spain. Injuries have really prevented him from showing what he’s capable of but the flashes of brilliance shown have been enough to make fans drool over the potential of a Vicarage Road return. The forward can operate anywhere across the front three and played on the left in the recent friendly against West Brom, a game in which Hernandez was the brightest spark on the pitch. With dynamic pace, bags of technical ability, trickery and an unmatched work rate the wait for Watford fans could prove more than worth it.
While the above players are almost certain to stand out, it must be said that more or less the entire starting 11 under Xisco Munoz was undroppable due to performances being shared across the team. The chemistry in the back four, Sarr and Kiko’s linkup down the right and the well-balanced midfield could all prove pivotal if the Hornets are to stay up this season. With over 30 players currently on the books, it is very likely that one or two players could surprise, be it newcomer Matthew Pollock or the talented Jeremy Ngakia.
Want to discuss the article or anything to do with football? Come chat with me on Twitter @Cameronsmart_
Follow us at @FootballOTH on Twitter and tweet us!
Interested in other sports too? Follow us at @OT_Heroics and tweet us on there too!
Main Image Credits- Embed from Getty Images