Watford 2018-2019 Transfer Review

Note: This is the latest breakdown of transfer moves leading up to the 2018-19 Premier League season. This post will be updated throughout the transfer window as appropriate.
Watford is one of those teams I always seem to be on the fence for, I feel like if they can stay healthy (and focused) they could cause a relative upset and finish in the top half. However, on the flip side, I see the potential for them shipping a ton of goals in the wrong direction, with balls sailing right past Foster/Gomes. I do like the moves they’ve brought in to supplement their squad. However, when I wrote in the Premier League Primer about the successes I thought they would have, they still had Richarlison.
For me the biggest concern (and elephant in the room) is what they are planning to do to cope with the loss of Richarlison. They really don’t have anyone they can expect a significant number of goals from, and that concerns me a lot heading into this season. Their top goalscorer was a midfielder with 7, and I just worry that unless they can get a target man to funnel the attack through that it will end a lot like last season (with a few lower places in final position). My write up discussed that as being my biggest concern then, and it’s more so now. Their goals allowed isn’t horrendous, but when you are towards the worst in the league in goals scored, it needs to be exceptional if you’re going to succeed. I still think this team is good enough to avoid relegation, but I am far less optimistic about their chances, I think a lower-mid tier is probably the best they can hope for.


  • Gerard Deulofeu ($14.3M from Barcelona) – Deulofeu came on loan from Barcelona in last years winter transfer window, on a $1.1M loan fee. He would only make 7 appearances for the Hornets before fracturing his foot. Judging by the specifics of this deal with Deulofu returning to Barcelona exactly 1 day prior to becoming a permanent Hornets player, it seems like there was buyout clause in the loan agreement. This leads me to believe that although the player ended up fracturing his foot — the coaching squad have been high on him for a long time. It also suggests that there was some sort of stumbling block to getting the initial deal over the line (perhaps that Deulofeu wasn’t interested in a permanent transfer at the time), but they seemed to have cleared up the issue. Deulofeu was a great player for Everton before transferring to Barcelona, providing 8 goals and 19 assists in 75 appearances for the Toffees. I think this is a good capture for the side, and see him playing a key role in any successes they have.
  • Adam Masina ($5.5M from Bologna) – Masina is a youth academy graduate from Bologna, having spent all of his time with the club except for one season on loan. He has been an important option for the Serie A club, racking up 35 appearances for them last season prior to coming to Watford. I think that Masina will provide good support in the left back position and can provide backup at left midfield if needed. Watford gave up a ton of goals in route to a -20 goal differential. I expect Masina to slot in right away and after a “settling in” period, I expect the concessions to drop. At 24, I think that Masina could be a part of this first team for a long time as long as he is able to keep his performance up.
  • Ken Sema ($2.5M from Östersunds FK) – Sema looks as though he was brought in as a like-for-like replacement for Nordin Amrabat departing (left midfield), although he could just as easily provide back up to the right midfield. During his time with Östersunds FK, he made 84 appearances with 10 goals and 28 assists even with lesser quality teammates. I expect Sema to prove to be a great pickup, and like Masina, could be around for a long time. I expect Sema to provide good service forward with Gerard Deulofeu for the strikers (which I expect at least one new one to come in as a result of the Richarlison sale, see “Outs” for more). His performances at the domestic level in Sweden have earned him call ups for the national side and I expect that, as well as the goals and assists, to continue for Watford.
  • Marc Navarro ($2.2M from Espanyol) – I think this is a move to start positioning the Hornets for the eventually lose of Daryl Janmaat and to provide some additional competition from Kiko Femenia, and for the cost I think it’ll be a good move — though barring an injury I don’t see Navarro taking over for Janmaat. He’s been playing well, and seems to have a lot of potential so I’m rating him a quality signing overall.
  • Ben Wilmot ($1.9M from Stevenage) – Wilmot should be a nice addition to the Sebastian Prödl, Adrian Mariappa, and Christian Kabasele in the back. I think this is most likely a move to provide long term planning for aging Mariappa (31). Wilmot only featured for Stevenage 15 times, but I think he’ll be an okay rotation option for the Hornets.
  • Ben Foster (Undisclosed from West Brom) – I expect this to be a move to provide competition for the keepers, Heurelho Gomes held down the position well for the first half of the season but lost his starting role to a loanee from SSC Napoli. I think competition will bring out the best in both keepers, going into training camps, I think I favor Foster to come out on top. Gomes was good, but at his age it’s a little hard for the club to want to invest it’s success long-term in a goal keeper that’s already 37 (not that Foster at 35 is markedly younger).
  • Domingos Quina ($1M+ from West Ham) – Quina looks to be a promising youth player, who despite making no appearances for the West Ham first team — made 27 appearances for the youth team. During this time he scored 3 goals and added 2 assists across nearly 83′ per appearance. Wolves acquisition of him based on this time seems to bode well for the youngsters future, as he’s not really been able to maintain a placement at any other program. Out of the game, I expect that he’ll come in to the U23 side and will have to work hard in training and reserve fixtures to show the coaching staff he deserves a run in the first team so I don’t expect him to feature more than a handful of times this season.


  • Richarlison ($52M to Everton) – Richarlison spent 1 year with Watford after arriving from Fluminense for just over $16M so watford is looking to make a healthy sum off their investment (just shy of $40M). The acquisition for Richarlison was made under then-Watford manager, and will see him reunited with now-Everton manager. Richarlison was in great form for the first half of the year for Watford but sizzled out after that, though he is only 21. While I think that Richarlison had a role to play in the first team this year, I think making $50M on an investment you’ve held for 1 year is a striking return on investment that couldn’t possibly be ignored — look for this money to be reinvested in a striker (especially if Stefano Okaka does end up making his move to to Turkey).
  • Nordin Amrabat  ($9.4M to Nasr) – Amrabat was a winter transfer window pick up in 2016 for Watford ($9.25M from Málaga), he made 48 appearances for the club before being sent on loan to Leganés. It appears that he is not in the club’s plans for the future, and despite this they still managed to sell Amrabat for a paltry gain, but if he’s not going to play for the club — they might as well cash in.
  • Costel Pantilimon (Undisclosed to Nottingham Forest) – Pantilimon was acquired as part of an undisclosed deal from Sunderland in 2016 from the winter transfer window in the 2015-2016 season. He’s only played for Watford 8 times, with 8 goals allowed, and 5 clean sheets, but, he’s been out on loan ever since. I don’t think this hurts the club any, so good luck to him at Nott’m Forest.
  • Mauro Zárate ($2.5M to Boca Juniors) – Zárate never really seemed to be involved in the first team plans for Watford, he was acquired and immediately sent on loan. The club will take a small loss on this, but it gives both parties a clean break and frees up whatever part of the wage budget was spent on Zárate.
  • Stefano Okaka (Undisclosed to Bursaspor) – Okaka made a good impression to start his time under Marco Silva, but lost favor after scoring 7 goals across 45 premier league appearances. Since then, Okaka has been plagued by suspensions and injury issues that have kept him further removed from the side. In total he missed nearly 4 months last season and with the windfall generated by the Richarlison sale, it’s probably best to just let Okaka go wherever the transfer fee dictates and get a striker that wants to be with the club.

Last update: August 15, 2018

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