At last the end has arrived, a time for most to sit back and reflect on the season just passed, however for Watford fans it’s a season that won’t live long in the memory.
The Hornets’ dismal campaign came to an end on Saturday with Giuseppe Sannino’s men being comprehensively beaten 4-1 by Huddersfield Town, condemning his under-performing side to a 13th place finish.
Thoughts turn to the upcoming transfer window and, if rumours are to be believed, it’s going to be another eventful one at Vicarage Road. Below I’ll look at some of the players who have been linked with moves away from Watford and offer my verdict on whether, ultimately, they will stay or go this summer.
Almunia has had an indifferent season this year and a number of his performances have been nothing short of erratic.
The 2013-14 campaign could have been the Spaniard’s last at Vicarage Road.
At times the former Arsenal goalkeeper has pulled off some fantastic saves to keep Watford in games and other times (Millwall being a perfect example) he has a tendency to botch the most simple of saves.
Almunia isn’t getting any younger and it looked like a farewell to the Watford fans during the ‘lap of honour’ after the Hornets’ final game of the season, where he appeared to be waving goodbye to the fans and hugging his fellow team-mates.
Of course I might be reading too much into this, but I think he will leave in the summer and another similarly-experienced goalkeeper is required if the Hornets are going to challenge for promotion next season.
If he does hang up his boots, or move on to pastures new, Almunia will go down as a in Watford history for his heroics in last summer’s play-off semi final against Leicester City and for that, Manuel, I thank you.
Ekstrand has struggled this season in comparison to last year; the Sweden international looks a shadow of the player he was during the Hornets’ run to the Championship play-off final and whether he’s just lost his confidence, or if it’s because he is simply unsettled, I don’t know.
I’ve always rated Ekstrand even with his indifferent form this year so it’ll be sad to see him go, but a move would perhaps be beneficial for both himself and Watford.
I don’t think many Watford fans will be losing sleep if he does decide to ply his trade elsewhere and l won’t be surprised to see him depart during the summer.
Merkel arrived at Vicarage Road in January on loan from Udinese but is yet to make much of an impression.
The midfielder is still trying to live up to the reputation he gained as a teenager but, after picking up a red card against Reading on his debut, he has been reduced to cameo appearances from the substitutes bench.
Both Christian Battochio and Sean Murray seem to be ahead of Merkel in the pecking order, which leads me to believe that Sannino doesn’t see much of a future at Watford for the 22-year-old.
It’s not been all bad for the former AC Milan midfielder, he has shown glimpses of quality but looks almost certain to head back to parent club Udinese due to a lack of game time.
It will be a shame if he does leave Watford as I think, given a run of games, he could prove to be a valuable player.
Speculation regarding a summer move to the Premier League for the former Walsall man has ramped up in recent weeks.
Rumours began circulating that Aston Villa and Newcastle United were considering making bids for the 25-year-old – with a transfer fee of around £8 million also being mentioned – while recently-promoted Burnley could also make an offer for his services.
Watford will find it hard to keep hold of the Deeney this summer after back-to-back 20-goal seasons, and the forward’s performances have certainly been worthy of a move to the Premier League.
At times he looks like the only player that wants to get ‘stuck in’ and the forward’s stoppage-time penalty during the Huddersfield defeat could turn out to be the last time his finds the net in a Hornets’ shirt.
That goal pushed Deeney’s goal tally up to an impressive 24 in the league, only 4 behind the Championship’s leading scorer Ross McCormack, and I’m in no doubt that he will have suitors this summer.
Personally, I think he’ll stay where he is and I hope the owners have the same mindset.
If Watford are to win promotion, Troy Deeney will be a huge part of that – especially due to the fact that he’s such a valued member of the squad. Another 20-goal season would help the 2014-15 promotion bid and that could push his value closer to the £10 million mark.
Management need to do everything in their power to ensure he starts the first game next season.
He seems to have such a good relationship with the fans, a mutual appreciation you could say and it’ll be a bitter pill to swallow for the Watford faithful if the striker departs for bigger and better things
However, if Deeney was to depart I don’t think many could blame him. He’s served us well and shown enough quality to warrant a shot at succeeding in the Premier League and, after Saturday’s dismal performance, why would he want to stick around?
The only saving grace in this case is that if Deeney is to go, the Hornets’ owners, the Pozzo family, will ensure that the club get the maximum value for him, so it’s going to have to be a big offer to lure them into a sale.
It may be wishful thinking on my part, but I think Deeney will still be at Vicarage Road next season.
After initially giving ‘One Size’ a one-month contract having continued to train with the club despite his release at the end of the 2012-13 season, in November the Hornets gambled and gave the injury-prone defender another one-month deal to the end of the season.
Hall made one start and one substitute appearance before his contract expired but was allowed to continue training with Watford under new head coach Sannino.
He signed another short-term deal in January, which was later extended until the end of the 2014-15 campaign, but unfortunately it’s not quite worked out for the 33-year-old as he has continued to struggle with injuries. This leads me to believe that Hall’s contract will not be renewed.
It’s a shame because I still believe he’s a top class player when fit and, as someone who is big, strong and powerful while possessing leadership qualities that have been sorely lacking this season, he is exactly what we need in a defender; making his ongoing injury problems even more frustrating.
Marco Davide Faraoni
When Faraoni arrived at Vicarage Road a lot was expected from the former Italy under-21 international. It’s fair to say that the hasn’t lived up to his hype; the quality he has is unquestionable, however he’s just far too inconsistent and often backs out of challenges.
I would love it if he was to remain a Watford player because he really could be fantastic player, but I often get the feeling that his heart is not really in it.
There were rumours of a move back to Italy with Torino in January, and I expect Faraoni might be plying his trade there come August.
It looked like a phenomenal transfer on paper but unfortunately it just hasn’t come to fruition for either party.
Towards the beginning of the season Cassetti seemed to flourish playing in a more central defensive role where his lack of pace could not be as exposed as often as it was at wing-back.
While still a capable and intelligent player, I would be very surprised if the Hornets were to keep the 36-year-old for another year.
Cassetti has been a great servant to Watford in the two years he’s been with the club, keeping us mesmerised with his fantastic beard as well as his calm and composed style of football.
Although he could still prove a valuable asset, I don’t think that the scenario that sees the Italian sign another one-year deal is particularly likely as he looks set to return home to his family.
Currently out on loan:
Acuna is another of Watford technical director Gianluca Nani’s summer signings that didn’t quite work out.
The 25-year-old forward failed to get a run of games under Gianfranco Zola and was subsequently shipped out to La Liga side Osasuna where he’s scored one goal in 13 games.
For me, Acuna never really got a chance at Vicarage Road so I’d welcome him back to see what he can do. Whether or not that actually happens is a different story altogether.
Fabbrini received a lot of criticism from Watford fans before a loan move to Serie B outfit Siena materialised in January.
The forward made it clear he didn’t want to pass to anyone else which would have been a little more acceptable if he actually found the net, but he didn’t. I think there’s a good player in there somewhere but I’m not sure the Hornets will be willing to wait until that materialises.
Like Acuna, Iriney struggled to make an impact at Watford and was promptly sent back to Spain on loan in January.
Shortly before his transfer window move to RCD Mallorca, the midfielder showed some real promise and I honestly believe he could still have a role to play at the club. After all, there’s a reason he’s amassed over 150 appearances in La Liga.
I think Iriney will be back at Watford for next season.
Whatever happens this summer it sure to be another busy transfer window of comings and goings.
If the players listed above are to leave this summer, then it’s essential that Watford don’t make the same mistake as last year and get in adequate replacements.
Which players do you think will remain at Vicarage Road and which will move on to pastures new? Let me know in the comments below!