F365’s summer transfer guide: Watford, West Ham, Wolves

Date published: Friday 25th May 2018 7:34

Read parts onetwothree and four of our bumper summer transfer guide, including Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. Now for the last one…

 

Watford

What do they need?
Nothing. Just nothing is fine. Watford have some excellent players, but the whole club has an air of intransigence that makes sustainable progress ever so difficult. Since retaking their place in the Premier League in June 2015, Watford have signed 51 players on permanent (39) or loan (12) deals. That is partly inspired by a regularly changing cast of managers, each with their own transfer targets, but also because Watford seem to stand for very little. It’s bloody hard to foster a team morale when nothing ever stays the same. Keep hold of Richarlison (and give the lad a long rest) and Abdoulaye Doucoure, and Watford should be happy. They currently have 36 first-team players, including the likes of Mauro Zarate – who must feel like they fell down a rabbit hole in Hertfordshire and are now stuck in a reality loop.

What will they get?
They will bring players in, because of course they will. Javi Gracia has not yet had a transfer window, and even he is not guaranteed to keep his job. But Watford will sign three players you haven’t heard of, three players you have and three on loan from Udinese. Then we’ll all act surprised when they lurch between good and bad form every time the wind changes next season. Cynicism aside, they have already signed Ben Wilmot from Stevenage for £1m, and that is exactly the sort of deal they should be doing.

What’s been said?
“Our scouting model is that we look at the best talent that is out there and we look to secure them. We are always continually improving, we are always adapting the squad but I think hopefully this summer there will be less activity than in previous seasons. We will always trade on our terms. And, if we decide to trade it’s because it is a significant transfer fee that will transform the technical ability of the club to move it to another level. With our scouting network we already have players identified should the market dictate a need for us to react. The current Academy system makes it very difficult to develop your own players. We will perhaps look to recruit some really talented young players from lower divisions, who we can bring into our Under-23s and have a one-year or two-year-long pathway into the first-team” – Chairman Scott Duxbury, April 5.

 

West Ham United

What do they need?
Despite the club’s best efforts, West Ham landed on their feet and found a very good manager to replace David Moyes. Manuel Pellegrini must lower the squad’s average age with some clever signings to help get fans back onside. The team Moyes picked to face Liverpool at Anfield in February contained players aged 36, 34, 33, 31, 30, 29 and three aged 28, while the bench had two 29-year-olds and a 31-year-old. Imports from abroad are fine, but only if they actually want to be at West Ham, rather than having a pipedream sold to them that turns out to built on sand.

The Javier Hernandez plan didn’t really work, West Ham could do with getting rid of him and Jordan Hugill (and maybe Andy Carroll too) and starting again with strikers. One central midfielder is needed given Chiekhou Kouyate’s decline, and a younger central defender and right-back would not go amiss despite Pablo Zabaleta hardly being a disaster. Plus a goalkeeper, because Joe Hart really isn’t coming back.

What will they get?
You can be sure that West Ham will sign at least one player for big money based on their World Cup showing who turns out like that case of wine you brought back from Spain because it tasted good in the sunshine. Keep hold of Manuel Lanzini and have Marko Arnautovic, Michail Antonio and Joao Mario ready after a full pre-season, and there are hopeful signs.

What’s been said?
“I want to dispel a myth about our net spending on new players in recent years. There has been claims that our net spend has been next to nothing but that simply is not the case. Since June 2016, we have spent club record transfer fees on Andre Ayew and Marko Arnautovic in that time, and also significant sums on other individuals including Chicharito. We have recouped some of that money by selling more than 20 players, including Dimitri Payet. However, there has been some incorrect reporting on the amount of money we did or did not spend on some players, particularly those we brought in on Bosman transfers. While no fee has changed hands for players aged 24 or older, significant agent and signing on fees and wages are needed to secure players who can literally choose their next move. The club will be looking to strengthen again this summer with a view to enjoying a better 2018/19” – David Sullivan, April 15.

 

Wolverhampton Wanderers

What do they need?
Wolves will obviously have to sort out some striker issues given that Leo Bonatini and Benik Afobe were both only on loan this season, though it would be little surprise if both signed permanent deals. Willy Boly is also on loan from Porto and was the club’s best defender during their promotion bid, so that needs sorting. Then there’s wing-back cover and the more general squad maintenance that comes from a club aiming for comfortable Premier League consolidation.

What will they get?
Normally I would take this opportunity to say that Wolves will get who Jorge Mendes tells them to get, but the lawyers have been on the phone so I won’t. Wolves will be linked with a vast array of names this summer, most of them spurious, but if a Championship club can sign Ruben Neves then they deserve to think big. Milan striker Andre Silva is the first high-profile candidate. I’ll let you Google the name of his agent. The big question is whether Wolves avoid the temptation to splurge like a kid on Football Manager suddenly given more funds to spend.

What’s been said?
“On the part of the coach, now is the time to really start planning and start thinking, knowing and making decisions. Some of them you have to make, no matter if it’s popular or not. But we have to make decisions simply, face to face and we tell them why, and the reason for it. Players will come, of course, but the names in the press – no. We know what we want and in the right moment our fans will know. People have been working really hard, Kevin Thelwell and the scouting department. Now it is time for the decisions” – Nuno Espirito Santo, May 16.

Daniel Storey

 


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