With fewer than three weeks remaining until the Hornets kick off the season against Aston Villa and a bit over one month until the summer transfer window closes, the hierarchy at Vicarage Road know they need to start thinking about finalizing a 25-man roster. The criteria for a squad list is that under-21 players do not count as a part of the 25 and that there is a maximum of 17 players who are not considered “home-grown.”
After briefly discussing the players who departures seem likely for, a rundown of Watford’s predicted Premier League roster will be made.
Pontus Dahlberg: the 22-year-old shot-stopper has a bright future ahead of him following multiple successful loans since his Watford arrival in 2018. However, with Daniel Bachmann and Ben Foster battling it out for the number one spot, and Rob Elliot extending his Vicarage Road stay to be the third-choice goalkeeper, another loan move is in the cards to give Dahlberg as many first-team minutes as possible.
Marc Navarro: having only made 13 Watford appearances since arriving in 2018 from Espanyol, the time has likely come for the Hornets and Navarro to part ways permanently. With Kiko Femenia and Jeremy Ngakia both ahead of the right-back in the pecking order, it is best for all parties to find the Spaniard a permanent departure.
Tom Dele-Bashiru: the 21-year-old looked as if he was destined to play a big role in the Hornets’ promotion quest until an injury in the fourth match of the season kept him sidelined for the rest of the campaign. The ever-improving youngster will benefit from a loan, preferably to the Championship, to regain fitness and get ready to compete for first-team Watford minutes in the 2022/23 season, regardless of what tier the Hornets are in.
Will Hughes: as unfortunate as it may be for Hornets’ supporters, a Hughes departure seems more probable than not. With a new contract still not being signed, if a reasonable offer comes in, Watford will feel as if they have no choice but to sell. Even with the likes of Imran Louza and Peter Etebo arriving, a replacement for Hughes should continue to be sought.
Andre Gray, Isaac Success, and Stipe Perica: all three fall into the same category. Following the arrivals of Joshua King, Ashley Fletcher, and Emmanuel Dennis, as well as the return of Cucho Hernandez from loan, the Hornets have no shortage of choices in the attack. With a Troy Deeney departure unlikely, especially considering the role he has played in preseason thus far while his true role ahead of next season is still yet to be determined, that leaves these three forwards extremely far down the pecking order. Minutes for all three at Vicarage Road will be few and far between, if not non-existent, so departures for all three, for all parties’ sake, will continue to be searched for.
Predicted Watford Squad List (With Key Notes)
Watford’s Potential 25-Man Roster
(Asterisk [*] denotes home-grown player)
- Daniel Bachmann*
- Ben Foster*
- Rob Elliot*
- William Troost-Ekong*
- Christian Kabasele
- Francisco Sierralta
- Craig Cathcart*
- Adam Masina
- Danny Rose*
- Kiko Femenia
- Nathaniel Chalobah*
- Imran Louza
- Peter Etebo
- Tom Cleverley*
- Domingos Quina*
- Dan Gosling*
- Ken Sema
- Ismaila Sarr
- Philip Zinckernagel
- Joshua King*
- Cucho Hernandez
- Emmanuel Dennis
- Ashley Fletcher*
- Troy Deeney*
Notable Under-21 Players
- Jeremy Ngakia
- Joao Pedro
- Kwadwo Baah
- Dapo Mebude (expected to be loaned out – hopefully he has a speedy recovery from the injury he sustained against Stevenage)
- Mattie Pollock (might be loaned out, though only having four center-backs in the 25-man squad suggests Pollock might stay for depth purposes)
On the predicted 25-man roster above, there are only 24 names. Thus, there is likely to be room for one more over-21 signature (perhaps the Will Hughes replacement or a fifth center-back). Meeting the home-grown quota is not going to be an issue, so targets from any league, as long as work-permit requirements are met, are able to arrive. A Philip Zinckernagel departure is also not entirely out of the question, so if he departs (as is the case if anyone else on the predicted over-21 roster does), two signings could be made.
As has been the case for a couple of weeks now, the Hornets’ transfer business is far from over. The last new pair of boots are likely yet to set foot in Hertfordshire. However, a significant influx of departures will be taking place between now and August 31st.